Ship cook who slashed colleague, exposing skull, jailed

A meat cleaver on a table.

A meat cleaver on a table. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — In response to a colleague who poked him in the eyebrow, a cook slashed the man’s forehead with a meat cleaver, causing his skull to be exposed.

Wang Wei, 56, was jailed for three months on 11 May (Tuesday) after he pleaded guilty to causing grievous hurt on grave and sudden provocation.

The Chinese national was then a cook employed aboard Panama-registered vessel Guo Shun, while his colleague Bai Yutao, a 51-year-old compatriot, was an oiler on the vessel.

Wang and Bai had fallen out since an argument in December last year. On 12 February, both were in the galley preparing dinner, with Bai washing utensils and Wang cutting vegetables.

Wang threw an empty steel bowl into the sink beside Bai, prompting Bai to ask Wang what was his problem. Bai hurled profanities at Wang, who remained quiet. After a while, the two argued until they walked to the entrance of the mess hall.

Bai suddenly poked Wang on his left eyebrow close to his eye. The action triggered Wang to use a kitchen cleaver he was holding and slash Bai on his head. Bai began bleeding and punched Wang several times in retaliation.

A few crew members intervened and separated the two. Bai felt giddy from the blood loss and had his head bandaged by a colleague. He was conveyed to the hospital and found to have an open skull fracture. He was warded for four days after surgery.

He also had bruises on his eyelid, above his ear and eyebrow.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hidayat Amir sought the jail term that was imposed, saying that Wang had targeted a vulnerable area of the body, but noted that he had been provoked.

Asked by the judge whether any action had been taken against Bai, the DPP said that no action was taken and that Bai had left Singapore.

In mitigation, Wang, who was unrepresented, said that he had missed his daughter’s wedding on 9 May, and that he had an 80-year-old mother with health problems. He added that he hoped to return to China soon.

“I am sorry to cause a scar on the victim and am thankful to the Singapore government for the good care and treatment,” he said through an interpreter.

For causing grievous hurt on grave and sudden provocation, Wang could have been jailed up to six years, or fined up to $10,000, or both.

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