Gardens by the Bay murder: Accused claims he was ‘too nice’ to alleged lover

Gardens by the Bay murder: Accused claims he was provoked after lover kept attacking him in car
Gardens by the Bay murder: Accused claims he was provoked after lover kept attacking him in car

The man who killed his alleged lover before burning her body to ashes claimed that he never had romantic feelings for the victim and was just showing kindness to her.

Appearing in the High Court on Tuesday (19 March) afternoon, Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, who faces a charge of murdering Chinese national Cui Yajie, said, “I was too nice to her, I gave in to her.”

The 50-year-old Singaporean had allegedly murdered Cui, 31, by strangling her in his car at Gardens by the Bay on 12 July 2016 before bringing her body to Lim Chu Kang Lane 8 to burn over three days.

Khoo, who is a retail outlet manager at Dryclyn Express, claimed that he didn’t know that Cui had liked him. The father of a teenage boy also insisted that he wanted to distance himself from the senior engineer. He didn’t know Cui by her real name and referred to her as “Meow Meow”, according to the statements he gave to the police.

The details emerged while Khoo was cross-examined by the prosecution, represented by Deputy Attorney General Hri Kumar Nair.

Khoo wanted to repay Cui’s kindness after she gave him $20,000, according to his testimony. She had also helped him with some matters as she was “fast and smart”, said Khoo, who added that they were just friends.

Early in their relationship, which began in 2015, Khoo told Cui that he was divorced with a son when he was actually married. Cui became jealous when Khoo spent significant amount of time with a woman whom she believed to be his ex-wife.

According to a psychiatrist’s report, Khoo had said, “I sympathise with her (Cui) too much and that’s my mistake.”

Khoo also claimed in the report that he and Cui didn’t have sex as she had “some sexual disease” and that “she’s too wild for me”. He told the court that he even joked with Cui when she suggested having his baby.

The prosecution questioned Khoo about a series of messages exchanged between him and Cui, in which Khoo had promised to spend more time with her.

But Khoo claimed the messages were not what they seemed. “From her message, she was going through emotional roller coaster, I was helping her regulate her mood,” he said.

In response, Hri Kumar rebutted that what Khoo said was “clearly a lie” and that he deliberately misled Cui into believing she was dating Khoo.

“You were the one who felt for some reason that you wanted to spend more time with her…and you regret not spending more time with her previously,” said the prosecutor.

Khoo disagreed and said, “Because I previously angered her…so I voluntarily comfort her.” He added that if he wanted to be together with her, it would have been an “easy affair”.

In the same hearing, Khoo admitted to having extramarital affairs with at least four other women, excluding Cui, since being released from prison for cheating offences in 2012. Calling it his “bad habit”, Khoo said he told the women the same lie that he wasn’t married.

According to text messages produced by the prosecution, a month before killing Cui, Khoo had messaged a former lover to propose marriage but he was turned down.

Two days after he killed Cui, he tried to proposition and kiss a masseuse, Hri Kumar told the court. Khoo was also in a relationship with a hairdresser at the time.

The trial will resume on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, Khoo told the court that he was provoked after the “agitated” victim kept attacking and scolding him in his car.

“And she shout I shout…I struggle…After that I also don’t know what happened. Struggle after that a while, she don’t move already,” said Khoo, who broke down in tears on the stand.

If convicted of the charge of murder by causing such bodily injury that he knew would likely cause Cui’s death, Khoo would face the death penalty or life imprisonment with caning.

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