Woman accused of assisting ex-boyfriend’s suicide said she tried convincing him against it: Police
A funeral director accused of helping her former boyfriend to end his life told the police that she had tried convincing him to change his plans, said a police officer on the first day of the court trial on Friday.
Alverna Cher Sheue Pin, 40, is claiming trial to one charge of intentionally aiding Mr Wee Jun Xiang, 32, in his suicide on May 16, 2020, and another charge of obstructing the course of justice.
The director and shareholder of City Funeral Singapore had originally planned to plead guilty in July 2023, but changed her mind and decided to claim trial.
The first witness to take the stand was the police officer who recorded Cher’s statement in December 2020. The officer was in the Special Investigation Section of the Criminal Investigation Department at the time.
The officer, who gave her name in court only as Ms Wong, testified that Cher said during the statement recording that she had tried to convince Mr Wee to drop his plans, but he was determined to die.
The full contents of the statement were not read out in court.
In his opening statement, Deputy Public Prosecutor Marcus Foo said the evidence would show that Cher knew Mr Wee was suicidal in February 2020.
Cher knew about his plans to kill himself using nitrogen gas, and agreed to help him remove traces of the suicide plans, said DPP Foo.
In May that year, Mr Wee started to make inquiries about buying a nitrogen gas tank and texted Cher to discuss the plan, said the prosecutor, adding that the pair discussed alternatives if the plan failed.
DPP Foo said on the morning of Mr Wee’s death, he bought a nitrogen tank and drove to a multi-storey carpark at Block 145A Bedok Reservoir Road with the tank in his car. He then told Cher that he was commencing his plan.
Cher drove a van to the carpark in the afternoon. Upon realising Mr Wee was still alive, she turned the valve of the nitrogen tank and poured liquid nitrogen into a bag to release more gas into the car. This was to assist him in committing suicide, added the prosecutor.
She then allegedly drove off and left Mr Wee behind in the car.
Later in the day, Cher returned to the carpark and saw that Mr Wee had died. She is said to have disposed of the bag and called for a doctor to certify his death.
DPP Foo said she also called a man – identified in charge sheets as Lawrence Cheo Oon Hui – to switch vehicles with her and drive away the van containing the used tank of nitrogen gas.
Cher then called the police, saying her friend had a heart attack in his car.
When the police arrived at the scene, Cher allegedly lied to a police officer that Mr Wee had experienced chest discomfort for two weeks before he died, and that she believed he died of a heart attack.
Court documents did not disclose why Mr Wee intended to take his life.
DPP Foo said the prosecution will call 31 witnesses in the 10-day trial, including a forensic pathologist who conducted Mr Wee’s autopsy.
According to the forensic pathologist, the cause of Mr Wee’s death was consistent with suffocation due to oxygen deficiency, said the prosecutor.
In an earlier statement, the police said Cher became a suspect during investigations and was later arrested.
Ms Wong described Cher as calm during the statement-taking process.
Cher was forthcoming to tell what happened, and did not raise any complaints or objections during the statement recording, said Ms Wong.
Clad in a navy suit and black mask, Cher appeared calm throughout the proceedings. Through her lawyers from Peter Ong Law Corporation, she requested a Mandarin interpreter at the start of trial.
She was originally charged with a more serious offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in December 2020, but the charge was downgraded in October 2021.
Latest Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority records show that she was appointed director of another company, Christian Funeral Singapore, in November 2022.
On a blogging site, the single mother of two daughters had said she was divorced from the father of her first child, and that the father of her other daughter was sentenced to jail shortly after she was born.
She also said she inherited a funeral business and debts from her younger daughter’s father.
The trial continues next Monday.