Murder charges withdrawn for 3 of 7 suspects in Orchard Towers case

Screengrab: Hidayah Rizqah
Screengrab: Hidayah Rizqah

In the latest update on the Orchard Towers case, three of the seven accused now face reduced charges after they appeared in court today. The murder charges against Tan Hong Sheng, 22, Chan Jia Xing, 26, and Loo Boon Chong, 25, were withdrawn and replaced with one charge each of consorting with a person carrying an offensive weapon, under the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act, Channel NewsAsia said.

The weapon in question is believed to have been a foldable karambit knife allegedly in the possession of 27-year-old suspect Tan Sen Yang.

If convicted, they face up to three years in jail and at least six strokes of the cane.

The trio were granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal for their murder charges, which means they cannot be charged with the same offense again, The Straits Times explained.

They had been charged last week with the murder of 31-year-old Satheesh Noel Gobidass at Orchard Towers, in what’s now become an infamous case.

According to court documents, the attack occurred at about 6:30am on July 2, and Satheesh was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood by the mall entrance. He was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Loo was offered S$15,000 bail, seeing as how his lawyer said he wasn’t a flight risk and he had gone to the police station voluntarily to aid in investigations, Today reported. Meanwhile, Chan and Tan had their bail set at S$25,000.

All three of them will return to court on Aug 1.

The judge ordered them not to contact their co-accused, accomplices, or any witnesses brought forward by the prosecution, as the rest of the group still face the charge of committing murder with common intent, with no bail allowed.

In addition to Tan, they are Ang Da Yuan, 26, Joel Tan Yun Sheng, 26 ,and Natalie Siow Yu Zhen, 22.

Tan is believed to be involved in other offenses. He will be held at the Central Police Division and will return to court on July 18.

Siow, Joel Tan and Ang were ordered to undergo psychiatric observations before they return to court on Aug 1. The two men will be held in custody at the Changi Prison Complex Medical Centre, while Siow will be detained at the Changi Women’s Hospital.

New closed-circuit television footage circulating on social media earlier this week showed the victim exchanging blows with some of the accused from a different viewpoint. After the group dispersed, Satheesh was seen collapsing and lying motionless on the floor as onlookers rushed forward to help.

Earlier this week, four of the accused were spotted in handcuffs and and being escorted by officers back to the scene of the crime.

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