The man who strangled his mistress at Gardens by the Bay before burning her body — over the course of three days — will not be sent to the gallows but instead spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, 51, was last month found guilty of murdering 31-year-old Cui Yajie on July 12, 2016, following an 11-day trial.
In court today, the prosecution did not seek the death penalty because Khoo’s “absolute disposal of the body” had hampered consideration for an appropriate sentence, Channel NewsAsia reported. This is, in fact, only the second murder trial in Singapore history to take place in the absence of a body.
That disposal had seen the 51-year-old returning more than once to ensure the body he had placed under a metal canopy at Lim Chu Kang Lane 8 was “burning well,” according to The New Paper.
Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair, who leads the prosecution team, was quoted by CNA as saying: “While the accused’s actions are undoubtedly reprehensible, there is some doubt as to whether they meet the legal requirements for the imposition of the death penalty.”
He added: “The accused should be given the benefit of that doubt.”
Justice Audrey Lim agreed that the death penalty should not be imposed on Khoo.
“Evidence did not suggest that Leslie planned to kill the deceased when he first met up with her on Jul 12, 2016,” the CNA story quoted her as saying.
“Leslie was likely caught unawares that the deceased had seriously intended to confront his bosses on that day. Indeed his plan was to attempt to dissuade her from so doing.”
Khoo, who is married with a son, had lied to Cui, telling her that he was single and the owner of a laundry firm when he was, in fact, working for the company as a retail outlet manager.
He had also talked Cui into giving him S$20,000 (about US$14,000) so that he could invest in gold.
Cui, a Chinese engineer for a semiconductor company, at some point discovered that Khoo had been lying to her about owning the company and decided to report him to his bosses.
She was determined to expose Khoo to his employer even when Khoo tried to dissuade her from doing so on the morning of July 12, 2016, multiple reports said. She had also demanded the S$20,000 money back.
At that point, Khoo then told Cui to follow him back to his car so he could personally take her to meet with his supervisor.
He instead took her to Gardens by the Bay, where the pair ended up arguing in the car, before Khoo then strangled her.
According to The Straits Times, Khoo packed the body into a laundry bag and left it in his car, which was parked overnight at the condominium where he lived.
He then drove the body to Lim Chu Kang, stopping by Kranji for charcoal and kerosene, then taking it to Lim Chu Kang, where he let it burn over three days, TODAY reported. Khoo reportedly returned several times to make sure the body was still burning.
Her items were discarded at Orchid Country Club in Yishun, the report said, and all that was left of Cui’s remains were some strands of her hair, a bra hook, and pieces of fabric from her dress.
On July 14, 2016, Cui’s colleagues filed a missing person report with the police, who subsequently arrested Khoo on July 20.
In case you’re wondering about the first case in Singapore history to try a murder suspect without a body, that came back in 1965. Formula One driver Sunny Ang was hanged after being convicted of killing his girlfriend at sea to collect on her insurance.