The murder allegation against a student who was accused of killing a 13-year-old boy at River Valley High School in July 2021 has been changed to culpable homicide.
The teenager, who turned eighteen in January, was charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The accusation states that he caused the death of a 13-year-old boy in a River Valley High School toilet.
The accused reportedly slashed the victim’s head, neck, and body with a 50cm by 22cm axe between 11:16 a.m. and 11:44 a.m. on July 19, 2021.
The charging sheet indicates that he did so with the intent to kill the youngster.
The police previously stated that they responded to a cry for assistance at the school and discovered the victim unresponsive and suffering from many wounds in a restroom.
At the scene, he was pronounced dead, and an axe was confiscated as evidence. At the time, preliminary inquiries revealed that the accused and the victim were not acquainted.
On Friday (February 24), the accused appeared in court by video-link from the facility where he was detained.
He had shaved his head and wore a mask and white shirt.
Joyce Khoo of Quahe Woo & Palmer reminded the court of the gag order, which prohibits the release of the accused’s name, photograph, and any other information that could lead to his identification.
The hearing was postponed until April.
In response to media inquiries, the Attorney-Chambers General’s (AGC) stated that the charge against the defendant was changed after doctors from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) determined that he was suffering from clinical depression at the time of the occurrence.
In 2019, police responded to an incident in which a 14-year-old attempted suicide.
Following the event, the youngster was detained for his safety and transferred to IMH for evaluation before being released.
If convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, he may be sentenced to life in prison with caning, up to 20 years in jail and a fine or caning, or to life in prison with caning.
A conviction for murder carries the death penalty. According to Section 314 of the Criminal Process Code, a death sentence cannot be imposed or recorded against a defendant who was under the age of 18 at the time of the offense.
Instead, he or she will receive a life term in prison.
A year after the incident, the Ministry of Education stated in a statement that the school has strengthened its support for students, including the addition of extra counselors and a wellness services hub.