Singapore—A man convicted of strangling his mistress near Gardens by the Bay and then burning her remains has filed an appeal against his conviction and life sentence, according to his lawyer.

On September 24, Tuesday, lawyer Mervyn Cheong told a district court that he had filed a notice of appeal against Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock’s conviction and sentence on August 21. Mr Khoo was convicted in July for the 2016 murder of Cui Yajie.

He appeared at the district court through a video link on Tuesday over pending charges regarding cheating and embezzlement.

Fifty-one-year-old Mr Khoo was convicted in High Court for strangling his mistress, a 31-year-old Chinese national and engineer, and then burning her body to hide the evidence, and sentenced to life in prison. Since Mr Khoo is past the age of 50, he is not subject to caning.

Just before her death Ms Cui had been about to expose the falsehoods Mr Khoo had been telling her concerning his marriage and employment. She had also been persistently asking him to return the S$10,000 he had borrowed from her for an “investment” in gold.

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The Chinese national 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. Police determined that he had been the last person to see Ms Cui, and Mr Khoo was arrested, whereupon he brought the police to Lim Chu Kang, where remnants of her clothes were found.

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According to the presiding judge on the case, Justice Audrey Lim, the case did not warrant that the death penalty be imposed, as this requires that the offender exhibits viciousness or blatant disregard for human life. She also noted that neither was the prosecution necessarily seeking it.

“The court of appeal … stated that the death sentence is the final and terminal sentence an offender can suffer, and should only be imposed after the most anxious consideration,” Justice Lim said.

Justice Lim said there was no proof that what Mr Khoo did was brutal, vicious, or that the onslaught was sustained.

In February of this year, Mr Khoo was charged with two counts of criminal breach of trust as a servant, and four other cheating charges. After his appeal of the murder charges has been dealt with, he will face the other charges.

He is scheduled to appear in court again on November 26.

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Mr Khoo allegedly took S$18,600 from the sales proceeds and payment of franchisee fees of textiles and laundry company Kendo Services between January and October 2015 and is said to have misappropriated S$5,779 from Kendo Services from May to June 2016.

He has also been accused of swindling around S$65,000 from four other women, some of whom were also his former lovers. -/TISG

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