Family of businessman killed by father-in-law at Boon Tat Street fights over 'missing' S$390,000 luxury watch in court

The judge dismissed the case as one of the key witnesses, the businessman's mistress, was also missing from the trial.

Khine Zin Htet | December 15, 2023, 12:32 PM



Years after Spencer Tuppani was killed by his father-in-law on Boon Tat Street in 2017, his friends and family took to court to fight over some of his assets.

Two friends previously failed in their bid to sue Tupanni's estate for a share of a S$4.6 million Holland Village property, which was held in Tupanni's name before his death.

In the latest turn of events, the three co-administrators of Tupanni's estate — his widow, her sister and his ex-wife — failed in their bid to sue Tupanni's parents over a missing Richard Mille watch, purportedly worth about S$390,000, allegedly sold by Tupanni's mother for S$160,000.

2017 Boon Tat stabbing case

Tuppani was fatally stabbed by his father-in-law, Tan Nam Seng, in 2017 on Boon Tat Street.

In early 2017, Tuppani's wife found out her husband had been having an affair, and he had two children with another woman.

Tan was also convinced that Tuppani wanted to cheat him of his business and take control of all the shares in the company.

On Jul. 10, 2017, Tan confronted his son-in-law as he felt Tuppani was avoiding him. 

He ended up stabbing him three times in the chest, leading to the younger man's death.

Tan pleaded guilty to one count of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in August 2020 and was sentenced to eight and a half years in jail.

"The Missing Watch"

According to the judgment made publicly available on Dec. 14, 2023, a district judge dismissed the suit against the parents after a five-day trial.

The co-administrators of Tupanni's estate said the police handed over the watch Tupanni was wearing to his father, who passed it to Tupanni's long-time mistress.

They then alleged that the mistress handed the watch to Tuppani's mother on the same day.

The co-administrators then claimed that Tupanni's mother sold the watch for S$160,000. They want either the watch returned or a compensation of S$389,205.13.

However, the trial revealed that the watch was "missing".

Father gave the watch away to someone he thought was "closest" to his son

The judge explained in his judgment that a core issue of the trial was whether Tupanni's parents intended to sell the watch or keep it for their own.

Tupanni's father explained in an affidavit that he had given the watch to Tupanni's mistress because he was in "unbearable grief" and did not want to hold on to these items as looking at them caused him "terrible pain".

During cross-examination, he maintained this statement, saying that he handed over the watch to the mistress by leaving it on a table because he was “very distraught, upset” and “traumatised by what [he] saw” at the crime scene and that he was “actually lost [himself]”.

The judge believed that when Tupanni's father handed over the watch to Tupanni's mistress, he did not consider who was entitled to the watch and merely believed that the watch was handed over to the person he saw as the "closest" to Tupanni at the time.

Mother denied receiving the watch from son's mistress

Tupanni's mother denied ever receiving the watch from Tupanni's mistress.

Tupanni's wife alleged that Tupannis's mother had told her in "phone calls" that the watch was sold to someone named "Tony" for S$160,000.

Tupanni's father, who was divorced from Tupanni's mother, also told Tupanni's ex-wife that Tupanni's mistress told him she passed the watch to Tupanni's mother.

Tupanni's mother explained that after her son's death, she was worried about rent and told her concerns to her son's mistress.

She said her son's mistress told her that she would "sell a watch" to help out and passed her S$160,000 subsequently.

However, Tupanni's mother had no idea what watch her son's mistress sold or whether she did sell a watch.

At this point, the judge said there was no credible evidence to rebut Tupanni's mother's claims that she never had the watch, and the issue could be clarified if Tupanni's mistress testified.

"The Missing Witness"

Tupanni's mistress was named as one of Tupanni's father's witnesses, and she swore an affidavit confirming that she handed the watch to Tupanni's mother.

However, when the time came for her to give evidence at the trial, she didn't show up despite a subpoena issued against her.

Furthermore, the judge said he could only draw "adverse inference" when the co-administrators did not decide to issue a subpoena against Tupanni's mistress for her to show up as their witness instead of when she failed to show up for father.

He said, "This must logically be that the version of events set out in [Tupanni's mistress' affidavit] is untrue."

The judge dismissed the co-adminstrators' claim and will rule on legal fees separately.

Top photos via European Watch Company (for illustration purposes) and via