Gardens by the Bay murder: Man given life imprisonment for killing mistress, burning body to ash

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock had been found guilty last month of murdering Cui Yajie, a 31-year-old engineer from China, after an 11-day trial. (PHOTOS: Facebook / Leslie Khoo, Cui Yajie)

SINGAPORE — The married man who strangled his mistress to and then burnt her body to ash over three days was sentenced to life imprisonment at the High Court on Monday (19 August).

Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, 51, had been found guilty last month of murdering Cui Yajie, a 31-year-old engineer from Tianjin, China, after an 11-day trial.

Justice Audrey Lim, in delivering the verdict then, said, “(Khoo) knew that compression of neck was likely to cause (Cui’s) death and that it was very dangerous.”

“(He) intended to grab and compress her neck and he knew what he was doing prior to her becoming motionless,” Lim added.

Throughout the trial, Khoo, who worked as retail outlet manager at a laundry business, claimed that he and Cui had fought and that he had strangled her in the heat of the moment.

Khoo also submitted a psychiatrist’s report to show that he had intermittent explosive disorder, an impulse-control condition characterised by sudden episodes of unwarranted anger.

But the High Court judge rejected his claims. “There was no fight, and he acted in cruel and unusual manner when he attacked her,” she said.

Lim ruled that although Khoo had been diagnosed with the disorder around 2002, it neither manifested at the time of the offence in 2016 nor did it substantially impair his mental ability.

Conned victim, then burnt her to ash

Khoo and Cui met in 2015 and they began dating a month later, despite the fact that he was married with a son. She believed that he was divorced.

At the time, he was also involved with several other women, conning four of them into taking part in purported investments. He also had them believing that he was the owner of Dryclyn Express, when he was actually just an employee.

Cui, too, fell for Khoo’s ruse, parting with money for a purported investment. She later demanded her money back but had had only received half of the sum by the time of her death.

On 12 July 2016, Cui threatened to confront Khoo’s employer at his workplace. He intercepted her before she could reach his office and drove her to Gardens by the Bay.

Khoo claimed during the trial that Cui began hitting him while they were in the car and gave varying accounts of his response her actions.

In one version, he claimed to have held Cui’s neck to push her away while in another he claimed to have been unaware that his hand had been on her neck until she became motionless. He also claimed to have tried exiting the car during the fight, but Cui had pulled him back.

When asked to explain the contradictions in his accounts, he claimed that his memory of the incident was hazy.

After Cui died, Khoo left her body overnight in the car at his condominium carpark. The next day, he brought her body to Lim Chu Kang Lane 8. There, he burnt her body using charcoal and kerosene over three days.

The only remains left at the scene were some hair, bits of fabric and a brassiere hook. Khoo then scattered Cui’s ashes at sea.

Two days after killing Cui, Khoo tried to proposition and kiss a masseuse. He was also in a relationship with a hairdresser at the time.

Khoo still faces four cheating charges and two counts of criminal breach of trust.

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