Today: Murder charge reduced against those in Orchard Towers brawl (Oct 7)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Murder charge reduced against those in Orchard Towers brawl
07 October 2008 2324 hrs (SST)

SINGAPORE: It was a night of revelry, as six friends – all gang
members aged from 17 to 28 – gathered at a pub in Orchard Towers on
November 23, 2007 to celebrate a birthday.

But the gathering ended in tragedy when a brawl broke out, and by 6am,
a 37-year-old stranger was pronounced dead after being kicked and
punched by the six friends.

The sextet – namely Ahmad Nur Helmy, Muhammed Ridhwan Mohammed Roslan,
Helmi Abdul Rahim, Ho Ching Boon, Lai Chee Kuen and Muhammed Suffian
Zainal – were collared in a matter of days after the incident, and
charged with the murder of Mr Suhaimi Sulong.

On Tuesday, they appeared at the Subordinate Court and pleaded guilty,
but to a lesser charge – voluntarily causing grievous hurt.

The charges were probably downgraded because the attack was not
premeditated, explained one lawyer.

With friends and family crowding the packed courtroom, all six
remained emotionless even as Deputy Public-Prosecutor (DPP) Samuel
Chua unveiled the gruesome details of the attack on Mr Suhaimi.

The fight took place at around 5am near Brown Sugar, a pub on the
second floor. According to court documents, the fracas began when Ho,
18, and Lai, who at 17 was underaged, left the pub after they spotted
police officers performing checks.

While they were waiting outside the pub for their friends to turn up,
Mr Suhaimi approached the duo and began making lewd comments and
offering sexual services. The teenagers decided to ignore him and head
back to the club.

At about 4am, Mr Suhaimi approached Ahmad Nur Helmy – the birthday boy
– while he was in the toilet, exposing himself to the 20-year-old in
the process. Angered, Ahmad summoned his friends and they confronted
the victim.

Eyewitnesses said the group began chasing after Mr Suhaimi while
shouting "jangan lari", which meant "don't run" in Malay. They also
asked Mr Suhaimi if he was a homosexual.

But when he didn't answer and tried to flee, Ahmad grabbed the
victim's T-shirt and began kicking and punching him.

Although the rest initially tried to break up the fight, they
eventually joined the fray and began throwing a volley of kicks on Mr

They then dragged Mr Suhaimi down to the first-floor entrance and
threw him into a taxi, court documents said.

By then, the victim was motionless and bloodied from the attack. He
had also sustained head injuries and was taken unconscious to the
Singapore General Hospital by ambulance.

The victim was pronounced dead at 6.02am and an autopsy later revealed
that he had died from blunt force injuries to his head and neck.

Over the next few days, police arrested his attackers. On November 27,
Helmi Abdul Rahim, 28, surrendered himself to the authorities.

The six men, all out on bail, are due to appear in court on October 28
for sentencing. All six face imprisonment for a term which may extend
to 10 years, and they may also be fined or caned.

- TODAY/so