Life imprisonment for man who strangled lover and burned her body
Gardens by the Bay murder:
Laundry shop manager Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock - who strangled his lover in his car on a quiet road near Gardens by the Bay and then burned her body - was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday.
Prosecutors had sought the sentence for 51-year-old Khoo, who was convicted last month of murdering engineer Cui Yajie, 31, in 2016.
Justice Audrey Lim said the case did not warrant the death penalty, which is imposed in cases where the offender exhibits viciousness or blatant disregard for human life.
Khoo admitted he strangled Ms Cui in his BMW and burned her body at Lim Chu Kang Lane 8 over days, until nothing was left except clumps of hair, pieces of fabric and a bra hook.
Justice Lim said Khoo, who was being pressed by Ms Cui to repay a $20,000 debt, wanted to silence her to rid himself of the financial pressure and threat of ruin that she posed.
But the judge said the evidence did not show that Khoo had planned to kill Ms Cui.
He did not know that she suddenly intended to go to his office to confront his bosses, and his initial plan was to dissuade her from doing so, said the judge.
Khoo had set up a conference call with his supervisor, intercepted Ms Cui at Joo Koon, and took her to a secluded place to calm her down, said the judge.
Justice Lim said that while Khoo had pressed Ms Cui's neck with great force, there was no evidence of a "sustained onslaught".
Though Khoo did not call for help after she became motionless and went to great lengths to dispose of her body, this was not relevant for sentencing.
Khoo, who is married with a son, was a retail outlet manager for a laundry company, while Ms Cui, a Chinese national, was a senior engineer at a semiconductor company.
They began a relationship in 2015 but Khoo lied to her, saying the laundry company belonged to his family and he was single.
When she became suspicious, he told her that he was divorced.
He also persuaded her to invest $20,000 in gold.
She borrowed the amount from her parents.
When she chased him for the money, Khoo asked a former lover to remit $10,000 to Ms Cui's father.
Meanwhile, Khoo's wife confronted him about how he had cheated on her, after Ms Cui sent her a Facebook message to stay away from him.
On July 12, 2016, he picked Ms Cui up from Joo Koon MRT station in his car, drove her to a secluded location near Gardens by the Bay and strangled her.
Khoo's case is the second in Singapore's legal history in which a person has been convicted of murder in the absence of a body.
The first was that of one-time Grand Prix driver Sunny Ang, who was sentenced to hang in 1965 for killing his barmaid girlfriend at sea after taking out insurance policies on her life.