SINGAPORE: Xavier Yap Jung Houn was sentenced on Tuesday (Aug 15) to 14 years in jail for killing his twin sons in January 2022.
Yap, 50, said that he felt his wife had given up on the two 11-year-old boys, who had autism, and that killing them would remove his wife’s burdens. He also feared that others would bully his sons and that no one would care for them after he and his wife died.
Yap plead guilty to two charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, for strangling Yap Kai Shern Aston and Yap E Chern Ethan to death near a playground in Upper Bukit Timah. He had originally been charged with murder, but this was downgraded to culpable homicide after it was revealed that he was suffering from a major depressive disorder of moderate severity around the time of the killings.
Yap, his wife, twin boys, and a domestic helper lived together.
Since the boys were two years old, the couple suspected that their children had autism spectrum disorder. Yap became increasingly concerned about his sons around 2019 or 2020. In 2021, he noticed that his wife was always angry with their sons, and his concern grew.
He began having suicidal ideations and bought an ice pick.
At the start of 2022, Yap started having serious thoughts of killing his sons and himself. This was fuelled by his wife being depressed and frustrated because the boys were about to be assessed for their suitability to remain in their mainstream primary school.
How he killed the boys
On Jan 21, 2022, at Greenridge Crescent Playground, Yap decided to carry out his plan. Situated near Yap’s house, the playground was quite quiet, and there was a big open field and a forest nearby.
At about 4.45 pm, he drove his sons to the playground in his car, bringing along the ice pick.
After the boys played for about 10 minutes, Yap carried them one by one into a canal near the open field. He pressed a stick against Ethan’s neck before strangling him and placing his face in the water. He then did the same to Aston, who had been watching without making a sound.
After the boys were dead, Yap tried to kill himself but could not do so.
Yap decided to pretend that he had been attacked and to tell the police as such. He then adjusted his sons’ bodies so they faced upwards before waiting for the police with their heads in his lap.
When the police did not arrive, he returned to the canal area near the playground and shouted for help. When officers arrived, Yap told them he had been attacked, and someone else had killed his sons.
He was taken to hospital with self-inflicted bruises on his head, cuts on his body, and abrasions.
Autopsies found that the boys had died by strangulation.
Yap was assessed to be suffering from a major depressive disorder. The symptoms had first appeared three years prior and worsened in the months before the offences.
Yap, brought in from remand in a white shirt, was defended by Mr Choo Si Sen, Mr Patrick Nai and Ms Choo Yean Lin of Tan Lee & Partners, and Mr Muhammad Razeen Sayed Majunoon.
Mr Nai read out a letter Yap had personally written to the court.
In the letter, he apologised for the “mayhem and trouble” he had caused everyone.
Apart from being unable to accept their special needs, his wife’s expectations of them behaving like normal children had grown unrealistic, Yap wrote.
He wrote that taking his two sons with him “would end their unfair suffering” and that all he could wish for on that fateful day was “a quick death and to be quickly served with a death sentence”.
“To me, that is the most lenient punishment and would allow me to join my two sons soon,” he wrote. He also said she had thrown away the boys’ belongings and “crossed a boundary that I can no longer tolerate”.
He said he now wanted to continue with his life as how he promised his elderly mother, and planned to take a diploma or degree in social service work. /TISG