Life sentence for man who stabbed roommate after arguing over spending pattern

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SINGAPORE: After an argument over his roommate’s expenses, a man went to prepare some dinner, but ended up stabbing his roommate with the knife he was going to use to cut ingredients.

Naing Lin, a 51-year-old Myanmar citizen, was drunk when he brandished his knife at compatriot Myo Kyaw Thu on April 2, 2021 and stabbed him several times in the chest and abdomen in their flat on Bedok Reservoir Road.

He left the flat and did not return until the next morning when he saw the victim lying motionless in the bedroom in a pool of blood.

Naing Lin was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday (Sept. 22) after pleading guilty to one count of murder.

The court heard that the 49-year-old victim was a senior technician in Singapore but had had a brief visit at the time of his death.

The afternoon before the incident, both men had a drinking session with friends. Naing Lin had five to seven large cans of beer.

The couple returned separately to the room they shared on Bedok Reservoir Road.

ARGUMENT ABOUT Spending HABITS

When Naing Lin entered the bedroom, he saw Myo Kyaw Thu sitting on his bed with his phone. They started arguing about the victim’s spending habits.

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“The suspect told the deceased that it was embarrassing that the deceased was borrowing money from others, including the suspect himself, despite being an engineer,” the prosecutor said.

Myo Kyaw Thu replied that he would solve his own problems without asking Naing Lin for money.

At that moment, according to the prosecutor, Naing Lin left for the kitchen, because he wanted to fry an egg with onions. He grabbed a kitchen knife and got ready to cook when he realized he didn’t have his phone with him.

He returned to his bedroom to reach for his phone with the knife still in his hand.

When the victim asked why he was holding the knife and cursing vulgarity at him, Naing Lin waved the knife at him and cut his face.

He stabbed his roommate in the chest, abdomen and left upper arm, causing the victim to collapse.

Naing Lin then changed clothes, grabbed his cell phone and wallet, and left the ward at about 6:20 p.m., without checking on his roommate.

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Over the next few hours, Naing Lin contacted several friends and asked them to contact the victim. Naing Lin also tried to call and text Myo Kyaw Thu.

Accompanied by a friend, Naing Lin returned to the unit at about 9:20 a.m. the next day. He initially stayed in the truck he was driving while the friend tried to enter the flat and yelled at the victim.

Both men later saw the victim lying through the bedroom window in a pool of blood. Naing Lin surrendered to the police.

The victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was found to have died of “bleeding from stab wounds to the chest and abdomen,” according to an autopsy report.

A review by the Institute of Mental Health found that Naing Lin was intoxicated at the time of the crime, but had no serious mental illness, was not intellectually disabled, and was not unhealthy. His drunkenness was not to the extent that he would not have known that what he was doing was wrong.

The prosecution, represented by deputy prosecutors Teo Lu Jia and Seah Ee Wei, has not objected to a life sentence based on the circumstances of the case. “The accused has not shown cruelty or blatant disregard for human life in committing the offence,” the prosecutor added.

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His lawyers Sanjiv Rajan and Minn Naing Oo, who described Naing Lin’s remorse, quoted part of their client’s statement to police saying, “I should have called the ambulance or my friend wouldn’t have died.

“In my moment of drunkenness and confusion I left the house and drove away. I am very sad about what happened. I did not plan or expect this. He is a good friend and drinking buddy. Even though we have disagreements, I mean no harm him. This was by accident.”

His lawyers pointed out that he had surrendered voluntarily and cooperated substantially with the authorities.

Noting that Naing Lin would miss his son’s formative years in Myanmar, Mr. Sanjiv said, “Hopefully we can follow a trajectory that gives my client some hope or some prospect…of one day being reunited with his family.”

In front of murder, Naing Lin could have been sentenced to death, but Justice Valerie Thean said the facts of the case did not deserve the death penalty.

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