After Being Her Loyal Caregiver For Years, SG Father Kills His Abusive Mentally-Ill Daughter

Tan Tian Chye in 2018 (source: The Straits Time)

According to CNA, a 66-year-old man in Singapore has been sentenced yesterday to two years and nine months’ jail after getting into a fight with his 35-year-old daughter which resulted in him killing her.

The incident which happened back in November 2018 saw the daughter, Desiree Tan Jiaping threatening to kill her father, Tan Tian Chye with a fork. In their Bedok South flat, he struck her with a metal pole until she fell to the ground before strangling her with a cloth which led to her death.

He realised she had stopped moving and released his grip, feeling shocked at what he had done. He called the police, before calling his brother, and called the police a second time to say, “I just killed my daughter. I grab the pole and whack her. I think she die already”.

Police arrived to see Tan in a crouching position at the entrance to the kitchen, with his daughter lying motionless on the kitchen floor.

Bedok South Flat (source: The Straits Times)

But there’s more to the story…

Desiree, who suffered from panic attacks with agoraphobia and hypochondriacal preoccupations became increasingly dependent on her parents and boyfriend since 2012. Agoraphobia is the fear of being in crowded public spaces while a hypochondriac is someone who is abnormally anxious about his or her health.

Over the years, she would mentally abuse her parents repeatedly over small matters and blamed them for not providing enough for her.

She has pestered her parents to borrow up to SD60,000 (roughly RM180,000) from relatives so that she could buy a Build-to-Order flat with her boyfriend. The parents did whatever was necessary to please her, with Tan even slapping his wife to satisfy her. It got so bad that the couple even contemplated suicide when their daughter grew “more insistent and abusive”.

In 2017, Tan took Desiree to Changi General Hospital, where she was diagnosed with another unspecified anxiety disorder. She declined psychiatric medication over fears of becoming dependent on it.

On the day of her death, Tan picked his daughter up from her aunt’s home and helped her pack her belongings. She scolded him for being late and being a lousy parent. During lunch on the way home, she clenched her fork in her fist and said she felt like killing him with it.

Frightened, he apologised repeatedly but it quickly escalated into the deadly fight after they arrived home.

Tan Tian Chye, 66, leaving the Changi Prison Complex on Oct 12, 2020. (source: The Straits Times)

In the sentencing yesterday, Justice Hoo Sheau Peng said that it was a “tragic case” and that Tan was, by all accounts, a selfless, loving and devoted father.

“As a society, it is critical to continue with efforts to improve… access to mental health services. It is unfortunate that much-needed help, support and intervention were not sought by or given to the Tan family during those years for their daughter and, thereafter, for (Tan)”, Justice Hoo added.

After being sentenced, Tan cried and thanked the judge, prosecutors and his lawyers. He could have been jailed up to 10 years or fined, or given both penalties. While the offence carries the possibility of caning, offenders above 50 cannot be caned by law.

Before the sentencing, an Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist who examined Tan four times said that he had a major depressive episode. This substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his actions. His risk of reoffending is low, the psychiatrist added.

The judge on the other hand encouraged Tan to continue seeking treatment for his major depressive episode and significant caregiver stress.