SINGAPORE: A painter who punched his housemate over a dispute about trash, knocking out his tooth, was sentenced to five weeks’ jail on Wednesday (Sep 11).

Chinese national Liu Lei, 36, was also ordered to pay the victim, 35-year-old Liu Jia, S$3,535 in compensation or serve an additional week’s jail.

The court heard that the two men from China were co-tenants living in a flat at Block 670, Jurong West Street 65. 

At about 9am on Mar 10, the victim wanted to prepare breakfast in the kitchen when he saw a bag of trash on top of the stove, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Houston Johannus.

He had seen Liu doing dishes in the kitchen earlier and he went to Liu’s room to ask him if he had placed the trash on the stove.

Liu followed him to the kitchen and told the victim that it did not belong to him.

Later that morning, the victim sent a few messages to a chat group for the tenants of the flat, asking for the person who had placed the trash bag on the stove to own up. He also reminded the group to dispose of trash in a proper manner.

Liu thought that the victim was directing those words at him and felt offended, the court heard.

He confronted the victim and a dispute broke out between them. When the victim told Liu that the words were not directed at him, Liu grew angrier.

He pushed the victim on his chest before punching his face twice. The victim felt giddy and began bleeding around his mouth, and realised that a tooth was missing.

Other tenants in the flat had initially stopped the victim from calling the police, but the victim did so after quarrelling with Liu again because he did not apologise and refused to compensate the victim for his medical bills.

The victim underwent dental implant surgery for his missing tooth and incurred S$3,535 in medical bills.

Liu pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt.

The prosecutor asked for at least six weeks’ jail and a compensation order to cover the victim’s bills, noting that the victim lost his tooth and was on medical leave for one day.

“This dispute happened over a trivial matter and the accused was the aggressor in this case, because he had confronted the victim over a perceived insult that was not directed at him,” said the prosecution.

He also noted that Liu had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty early, and that the incident had occurred on the spur of the moment.

Liu told the court through a Mandarin interpreter that he felt very remorseful for his actions.

For voluntarily causing hurt, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined a maximum S$5,000, or both.