A picture of Guan Wen Brian Tan. Picture: Queensland Police Service.
A picture of Guan Wen Brian Tan. Picture: Queensland Police Service.

Jail for brutal hammer attack and stabbing

THE ex-girlfriend of a Singaporean man who repeatedly hit her with a claw hammer and stabbed her with a knife has told a Brisbane court of her fear of walking alone and how she suffers flashbacks and nightmares, alongside physical pain.

Guan Wen Brian Tan will have to serve 80 percent of the sentence, as a serious violent offender, and then will be taken into detention before being deported.

Supreme Court Justice Soraya Ryan said Tan's attack on Sherry Cheung, 20, after she said she never wanted to be with him again, was unprovoked, planned and persistent.

"It occurred without warning. It involved many strikes at her or to her. You persisted with the attack when the complainant managed to get the hammer from you," Justice Ryan said.

"...You did not cease of your own accord. You tried to stop her from escaping."

Justice Ryan said Tan showed limited insight or empathy for his victim, who still felt scared when she saw someone who looked like Tan or when she walked alone.

Tan was originally charged with attempted murder, but in February he pleaded guilty to doing a malicious act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Tan, 33, attacked Ms Cheung, then 20, who lived in Brisbane, with the 36 centimetre long hammer after she told him they would never be together.

She had ended their two-year relationship, which began through their shared interest in playing online games, in 2017, and was in another relationship, the court heard.

Just 24 hours before he attacked Ms Cheung, Tan had told her he was coming to Australia from Singapore to visit her.

After one meeting, Ms Cheung agreed to visit him at his Airbnb at Norman Park in Brisbane that night and that afternoon Tan bought a claw hammer and chocolates.

"After hearing that she did not want a future with you, you attacked her without warning," Justice Ryan said.

Tan struck Ms Cheung twice on the top of the head with a claw hammer and hit her arms with the hammer as she tried to protect her head.

Tan then grabbed her arms and said: "How can you be so cruel?," the court heard.

Tan tried to choke Ms Cheung and tripped her, causing her to fall to her knees.

After Ms Cheung bit Tan, she grabbed the hammer and tried to escape, but Tan stabbed her in the neck with a 23 centimetre long knife.

He then bit Ms Cheung's wrist when she grabbed the blade.

In order to draw the attention of others to her plight, Ms Cheung smashed a glass window of a door with the hammer and Tan then fled.

Ms Cheung suffered two skull fractures and injuries to her head, neck, throat and upper chest.

Justice Ryan said Ms Cheung's many wounds were because of the persistent nature of the attack.

After the attack, Tan later returned to the Airbnb, where he was found by journalists, and police later found notes that he had written about Ms Cheung.

"Those notes were all about you and your pain and what you described as the emotional insult and damage the complainant had inflicted upon you," Justice Ryan said.

Guan Wen Brian Tan arriving at Brisbane Watchhouse. Picture: Seven News.
Guan Wen Brian Tan arriving at Brisbane Watchhouse. Picture: Seven News.

In her victim impact statement, Ms Cheung spoke of her fears.

"She's scared walking alone, she suffers flashbacks and nightmares, she suffers headaches when she attempts certain physical activities," Justice Ryan said.

"...She's lost sensation in part of her neck, she has scars on part of her body.

"She feels she will never be able to make friends online again. She's sensitive to hammering noises."

Justice Ryan accepted that Tan's exposure to domestic violence as a child had corrupted his understanding of relationships and affected his self-esteem.

He reacted very badly to perceived criticisms or slights by partners and had a strong, idealised attachment to Ms Cheung.

Tan's persistence in claiming that he had purchased a hammer as a gift for his Airbnb host was fanciful, Justice Ryan said.

Justice Ryan said the attack on Ms Cheung was pre-planned, in that Tan had purchased the weapon beforehand for use on her in some way, if she did not indicate they had a future relationship.

Defence counsel, Sam Di Carlo, said Tan now accepted he bought the hammer intending to use it on Ms Cheung.

A psychologist said Tan had acted with violent rage after being rejected by Ms Tan, he had been obsessed with her and had ruminated on the end of the relationship.

He had problems with empathy, as result of childhood exposure to abuse.

Mr Di Carlo said after the attack Tan had attempted to kill himself, by trying to swallow a rock and disinfectant or detergent.

Justice Ryan declared the 786 days that Tan had served in custody as time already served on his sentence.

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