Singapore—On Thursday, July 18, Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, age 51, was found guilty of strangling his mistress, Cui Yajie, and then burning her body to hide the evidence.
Mr Khoo’s trial started earlier this year.
He was convicted in the High Court of strangling Ms Cui, a Chinese national and a 31-year-old engineer, in the front seat of his car at Gardens By the Bay on July 12, 2016.
It took him three days to burn her body with charcoal and kerosene, which he did at Lim Chu Kang.
Ms Cui had been about to expose the falsehoods Mr Khoo had been telling concerning his marriage and employment. She had also been persistently asking him to return the S$10,000 he had borrowed from her for “investment” in gold.
According to Judicial Commissioner Audrey Lim, the case had been proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt, and that Mr Khoo’s defence had not succeeded in proving either provocation, sudden fight or abnormality of mind.
JC Lim said he “knew of what he was doing.”
She also refused his explanation that burning the body was his way of giving his lover a “proper send-off.”
JC Lim said, ”I also found that he had a motive for killing her to rid himself of the financial pressure and threat of exposure and ruin that she posed.”
The court heard that Ms Cui had met Mr Khoo when she was at a particularly vulnerable period in her life, having had just broken off from her former boyfriend, who happened to be a neighbor of Mr Khoo.
They began a relationship, but Mr Khoo had lied to her from the beginning, saying that he was a divorcee and the owner of a laundry.
On his part, Mr Khoo denied having had an affair with Ms Cui, saying she was not his type. According to him, they were just friends.
On the morning of her death, he took her for a ride near Gardens by the Bay, where they began to argue and even became physically violent with each other.
He told the court that he realized that his hand was on the neck of his lover only when she stopped struggling. After having left her body in his car overnight, he decided to cremate her remains.
After burning her body in a remote area along Lim Chu Kang Lane 8, he scattered her ashes into the sea.
After police determined that he had been the last person to see Ms Cui, Mr Khoo was arrested, whereupon he brought the police to Lim Chu Kang, where remnants of her clothes were found.
Mr Khoo’s lawyers argued that he had been suffering from diminished responsibility and that he acted on grave and sudden provocation.
If the death of Ms Cui had been premeditated, his lawyers said, it was a “very clumsily executed one.”
A private psychiatrist assessed that Khoo had Intermittent Explosive Disorder, characterized by violent outbursts, and which significantly affected his mental responsibility for his doings. Even his wife had a personal protection order due to his violence against her.
However, JC Lim said that she did not believe that he and Ms Cui were not in a relationship and that she had been violent against him in his car.
“I also disbelieve the accused that he had tried to open the car door to leave but was restrained by the deceased, who was smaller in size than him.
I found that he knew he had grabbed her neck and consciously compressed it. I also found that he had done so with great force.”
Mr Khoo may yet receive a death sentence or life imprisonment. Since he is above the age of 50, he cannot be caned.
His sentencing will be done at a later date. -/TISG