Gardens by the Bay murder: Prosecution calls accused a liar, slams his changing testimony

PHOTOS: Facebook pages of Leslie Khoo (left), Cui Yajie (right)
PHOTOS: Facebook pages of Leslie Khoo (left), Cui Yajie (right)

The man who allegedly murdered a woman at Gardens by the Bay was a liar who kept changing his court testimony in an attempt to show that he was “out of control” when he killed the victim.

This was one of the prosecution’s arguments in the High Court on Wednesday (20 March) on the sixth day of Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock’s murder trial. The 50-year-old retail outlet manager at Dryclyn Express is contesting one count of causing such bodily harm that he knew was likely to cause the death Chinese national Cui Yajie, whom he allegedly had an extramarital affair with.

He is accused of strangling the 31-year-old senior engineer in a black BMW on 12 July 2016, at around 9am to 10am while he parked the car at Gardens by the Bay. After killing Cui, Khoo allegedly burnt her body to ashes at Lim Chu Kang over the next few days.

The different versions of the incident that Khoo gave to the police and psychiatrists prompted Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair to say, “The reason why you are now departing (from your statements) is because you want to give the impression to this court that you were so out of control that you cannot remember any details of you killing the deceased.”

On Tuesday, Khoo had told the court that on the day of the incident, after he drove Cui and parked his car, the two had a heated quarrel.

According to Khoo’s testimony, he begged Cui to stop her actions but the woman did not listen. She began hitting him, and after “one thing led to another”, Cui suddenly became motionless, Khoo claimed.

The prosecution on Wednesday referred to multiple statements that Khoo had given to the police and psychiatrists, which it said contradicted his testimony in court. Khoo replied that he would often deny what he said in his statements, or claim to have a “hazy memory”.

In one of his earliest statements to the police, Khoo claimed that he and Cui had left the car during their argument. Khoo had then pushed Cui to the ground before returning to his car. This account was not mentioned by Khoo when he was examined by his lawyer, Mervyn Cheong, on the stand.

But in an account to the Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist Dr Kenneth Koh, Khoo claimed to have knowingly grabbed Cui’s neck to push her away. This contradicted his testimony in court on Tuesday that he wasn’t aware that his hand was on her neck until she stopped moving.

When confronted about this, Khoo replied, “I told the doctor. Whatever the doctor asks me, I will answer him.”

In an account to another psychiatrist, Dr Ken Ung, Khoo also recalled grabbing Cui by the neck and pressing down on it while shouting or thinking that he could not take it anymore. According to Dr Ung’s statement, Khoo’s recollection of some parts of the incident was hazy.

Hri Kumar argued it was clear from Khoo’s evidence in court that he remembered the sequence of events that happened except the moment that he strangled Cui.

“You claimed to Dr Ung that your recollection was hazy and you have come to court to even give a hazier account or more unclear account because you want to give the impression to this court that you had lost control,” said Hri Kumar.

Khoo disagreed with the prosecutor, saying “I don’t even know what I was doing so it’s impossible.”

When the prosecutor asked Khoo why he did not just leave the car when Cui became violent, Khoo claimed that he attempted to but was pulled back by Cui before he managed to open the door.

Hri Kumar pointed out that Khoo had not mentioned his attempt to do in any of his 10 statements to the police.

The trial continues on Thursday.

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