A district judge called for both probation and mandatory treatment order reports after a Singapore General Hospital (SGH) senior consultant appeared before him for threatening her 81-year-old doctor-father with a knife and held his neck in an armlock.
Tham Kwang Wei, 43, a senior consultant and director at the SGH Life Centre’s Obesity and Metabolic Unit, was diagnosed with mental illness, admitted to threatening and causing hurt to her father, Dr Tham Ngiap Boo.
It all began in mid-2013 when Tham’s father stopped going to church and contributing to the church. She felt that her father was wrong and took a bank loan and paid the church eight months of contributions totalling $27,700. She took on extra duties at work to pay this off, her lawyer said in mitigation.
As the daughter felt that she had to recover the amount, with interest, from her father, she forged her father’s signature on a cheque for $28,030 three days before threatening her father with a knife.
A Community Court heard that Tham went to her father’s clinic at Whampoa Drive on Sept 30 last year.She claimed that he owed God $150,000 and told him to give her the money so she could return it.
When he refused, she took out an 18cm-long knife and held it to his neck. He tried to push her away and called for help. His clinic assistant opened the door but was forced out by Tham.
Tham forced her father onto a chair and held his neck in an armlock. He was struggling and trying to free himself when another staff member came and took away her knife. Tham then bit the victim’s left forearm.
Tham’s lawyer, Mr Selva K. Naidu, said in mitigation that an Institute of Mental Health (IMH) psychiatrist had stated that there was a “substantial causal link” between her mental disorder – depression with psychotic features – and her offence.
The IMH psychiatrist had stated in an earlier report that Tham’s actions did not appear to be caused by “greed, personal gain or criminogenic factors”. He said: “Her actions appear to have been driven by psychotic experiences related to her religious or spiritual beliefs, which made her believe that her actions were morally correct.”
Mr Naidu said his client’s employer, SGH, is aware of the charges and her psychiatric condition, and has found her fit to continue her practice at the hospital.
District Judge Mathew Joseph noted that the case was most unusual and said it was important to arrive at the right sentencing outcome.