Delivering his decision of seven years’ jail, Justice Pang Khang Chau said that it was relevant to note that the killing was not due to animosity, jealousy or any kind of malice towards the victim. ― TODAY file pic
SINGAPORE, — Thinking that the company he was running wasn’t doing well and that his own suicide over it might bring shame to his pregnant wife, David Brian Chow Kwok-Hun decided to kill his sleeping spouse, delivering 15 stab wounds to her head, neck and torso.
The 35-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to seven years’ jail today after pleading guilty to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue told the court that Chow and his wife, Isabel Elizabeth Francis, had registered their marriage on Dec 28 in 2019 and had been living in their Ang Mo Kio matrimonial Housing and Development Board flat since May 2021.
Francis was 30 at the time of her death in January 2022 and about 15 weeks pregnant with a baby girl, who would have been their first child.
Prior to the incident, Chow was the managing director of KnowledgeTree Training Centre which provides various Workforce Skills Qualifications security courses, under the national training certification system for skills upgrading.
In December 2021, Chow requested for the company’s half-year financial report from an accounting staff and found the numbers to be unusually poor.
Believing that the business will fail, Chow started to lose sleep due to worry and stress over the company’s finances, often getting only one to two hours’ of sleep a day.
Despite assurances from his colleagues, family members and his wife, Chow’s behaviour did not improve.
On Jan 10, 2022, while at the office, Chow had a meeting with his colleagues who noticed that he was extremely listless.
Chow’s mother later took him out for a late lunch where he repeated his same business concerns to her.
She then sent him back home to rest.
At about 1am the next day, Chow started pacing up and down the corridor of his Ang Mo Kio Street 23 flat as he mulled over his business concerns and wondered how he could compete with his competitors.
He was also worried that his employees would leave the company or lose confidence in him.
Chow then thought of ways to kill himself, such as jumping from his flat.
However, he feared that his wife might suffer shame from having a spouse who committed suicide and decided to kill her before taking his own life, said DPP Jiang.
The court heard that Chow then went to the kitchen where he took out a knife to test the sharpness of the blade as he wanted everything to “end fast”.
Francis was sleeping on her side with her back facing the door when Chow entered the master bedroom with the knife.
He turned her so that she was lying on her back before he thrust the knife into her stomach.
His wife screamed and Chow covered her mouth with his hand to muffle her screams. He then said to her: “Sorry, I have no way out.”
He then stabbed her multiple times on her head and neck region as well as on her stomach and back. When she crawled towards the door, Chow thrust the knife into her head.
She then collapsed on the floor and became motionless, having sustained a total of 15 stab wounds to the head, neck and torso.
An autopsy found that two wounds proved fatal: One on the upper portion of her neck and another in the lower lobe of her left lung.
The attempted suicide
After checking that no one was alerted by his wife’s screams, Chow returned to the kitchen and picked up another knife to kill himself.
Holding the knife with both hands, Chow pierced himself on both sides of his neck, at the throat area.
When he felt that he was not dying, he used the knife to stab himself in the stomach.
He then knelt on the ground and said he asked for the devil to “take him” and for his wife and unborn child to “go to heaven”.
He also consumed a random assortment of tablets to aid in his suicide attempt.
At around 7.36am, Chow found himself still alive and decided to call the police to tell them that he had killed his wife as he knew that he committed a crime.
Chow then crawled to the main door to unlock it for the police.
The police and paramedics arrived shortly and Chow’s wife was pronounced dead.
Chow was then taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for treatment. He was also arrested there.
He was subsequently assessed at the Institute of Mental Health where he was found to be suffering from Adjustment Disorder with Anxious and Depressed mood, which led to his catastrophic thinking that impaired his reasoning and judgement.
However, the diagnosis stated that Chow’s self-control was not impaired as he was still able to perform goal-directed actions when he killed his wife.
It was later discovered, after the incident, that the accounting staff had made an error in the report. The poor numbers presented to Chow were not accurate and the business was not doing as badly as Chow had thought.
The prosecution sought a sentence of between nine and 12 years’ jail, with DPP Jiang arguing that Chow did not lack any impulse control and demonstrated some level of control over his thought process.
While DPP Jiang fully agreed with the defence that this was a tragic case, he said that the tragic circumstances of the case must be balanced with society’s abhorrence of the violence that Chow had inflicted on a woman who was at the prime of her life and was pregnant at the time.
In seeking five to seven years’ jail for his client, defence counsel Shashi Nathan asked the court to give Chow a chance for rehabilitation as there was “absolutely no reason” for Chow to have done this to the person he deeply loved.
“The real reason he will suffer is knowing that two people he loved are lost because of him and that is almost like his life sentence which he will live with for the rest of his life,” said Mr Shashi, as his client burst into tears in the dock.
Delivering his decision of seven years’ jail, Justice Pang Khang Chau said that it was relevant to note that the killing was not due to animosity, jealousy or any kind of malice towards the victim.
Instead, it was out of a desire to spare his wife and his future child from suffering, said Justice Pang.
He was originally charged with murder but the charge was later reduced.
For committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder, Chow could have jailed for up to 20 years or given a life sentence and fined or caned. — TODAY