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

Photos of Leslie Khoo (left) and Cui Yajie (right) on their Facebook pages

The man who is accused of murdering his alleged lover at Gardens by the Bay claimed in court on Tuesday (19 March) that he was provoked after the “agitated” victim kept attacking and scolding him in his car.

Taking the stand for his trial, Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, 50, said following the incident, he left the body of Cui Yajie, a 31-year-old Chinese national, overnight in his car at a carpark in his condominium.

Khoo, a retail outlet manager at Dryclyn Express, recounted in the High Court the events leading up to how Cui, a senior engineer, was killed on 12 July 2016. The father of a teenage boy reportedly also had several other lovers and swindled $65,000 from four of them.

Opening the defence’s case, lawyer Mervyn Cheong said on the morning of the killing, Khoo and Cui had a heated argument.

“He still believed that he could pacify her like he used to in the past whenever she would throw a tantrum. Unfortunately the quarrel went on… The accused begged and kowtowed to the deceased to stop her actions, to no avail,” Cheong told the court.

The lawyer said Khoo would give his defence that his actions were due to “grave and sudden provocation by the deceased” and that there “a sudden fight in the heat of passion” between Khoo and the victim.

Cheong played a recording of a video call between Khoo and Cui where the victim could be heard berating Khoo for posting pictures of his “ex-wife” and son on his Facebook and none of hers. Cui had believed that Khoo was a divorcee who often met his “ex-wife” when in reality, he was still married.

In another video which Khoo took of Cui using his mobile phone while in his car, Cui was using her mobile phone in the front passenger seat when she hit Khoo. The video was abruptly cut off when Khoo’s phone fell from his hands.

“After that I can’t remember but she always screamed at me after that. I will say sorry lor (sic). Don’t hit me too hard whatever, cool her down,” Khoo said of the incident.

On the morning of 12 July 2016, Khoo woke up and rang Cui after he saw a number of missed calls from her. Cui was angry and insisted on clarifying with Khoo’s supervisor to see if Khoo was busy as he had claimed.

After a conference call with Khoo’s supervisor, Khoo picked up Cui in his car at Joo Koon MRT station and she began berating him.

Khoo testified that while she kept “nagging and scolding” him, he did not communicate much with her in the car as he wanted to focus on driving safely.

Later, Khoo drove to Gardens by the Bay and tried to calm her down but Cui became violent towards him. Khoo tried to push Cui away but the latter continued to attack him.

“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.

Khoo claimed he only realised his hand was on Cui’s neck after she became motionless. He tried to revive Cui by shaking her and thumping her chest, to no avail.

“I become lost. I was quite lost and blank at that time after I see her don’t move. I really shock,” Khoo said.

After the incident, Khoo said that he drove around aimlessly and later returned to his condominium at night. He then parked his car in a carpark and left Cui’s body overnight in the car.

The next morning, he brought the body to Lim Chu Kang Lane 8 and burnt it before scattering the ashes in the sea a few days later.

The prosecution is arguing that Khoo was determined to silence Cui, who had threatened to expose his web of lies about him being a rich businessman and his marital status. Khoo was planning a brutal murder with the aim of leaving no traces behind, the prosecution said in court last week.

The trial resumes on Tuesday afternoon with the prosecution cross examining Khoo.

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