SINGAPORE — Allen Vincent Hui Kim Seng's engagement of “Camorra Hitmen” to murder a stranger was “not only cold-blooded, but a highly sophisticated act which involved significant planning and premeditation”, said the prosecution during the 47-year-old's sentencing hearing on Monday (9 September).
The prosecution sought a five-year jail sentence for Hui, who hired a hitman through the Dark Web to kill his former mistress' new boyfriend in May last year.
His plan was foiled when a journalist from the American television network CBS tipped off the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
Though a married man with a young daughter, Hui had an affair with a then-colleague, a 30-year-old Malaysian woman.
He began dating the woman on 22 April 2016 after becoming her colleague in January that year. The woman ended the relationship in February last year after realising that Hui did not intend to leave his wife.
Despite Hui's attempts to woo her back, the woman began seeing a 30-year-old man, surnamed Tan, on 27 April after changing jobs.
"When she ended their relationship, (Hui) was unable to move on, remained obsessed with the woman and stalked her incessantly," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan.
"(Hui) leveraged on the convenience and anonymity of the Dark Web, a platform notorious for illegal activity," added DPP Kumaresan.
"It was purely fortuitous that Tan's murder was not carried out."
There was a need to deter others who believe that they can hide behind the anonymity of the Dark Web to commit serious offences, said the DPP. Hui had used Tor, a free browser that enabled anonymous communication online, to access the Dark Web.
Hui, a risk management executive, had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of abetting murder by instigation. One count of criminal intimidation was considered for his sentencing.
Depressed and on medication
Lawyer Lee Teck Leng sought a sentence of two-and-a-half years' jail for Hui, saying that his client was not "an evil and cold blooded would-be murderer".
The lawyer highlighted a letter from a general practitioner that Hui had visited the month before he turned to the Dark Web for an assassin.
According to the letter, Hui reported feeling depressed and that life was meaningless. He was stressed with work and familial issues and contemplated suicide while standing on the eighth floor ledge. However, thoughts of his daughter, then two years old, prevented him from ending his life.
Hui was prescribed anti-depressants then. His visit to the doctor was genuine, not a "flimsy excuse to explain his wrongful conduct", said Lee, pointing out that Hui had visited the doctor before looking for hitmen.
Hui's condition worsened after his mistress broke up with him and later told him she was seeing another colleague, according to the lawyer.
The lawyer also told the court that Hui initially only planned to maim the victim, not kill him. 'Camorra Hitmen' had instigated Hui to kill Tan, said Lee.
His client also experienced a turning point ten days before the supposed murder on 22 May 2018. On 12 May, Hui went on an overnight staycation with his wife and daughter in Johor Bahru, where he realised that it was time for him to let go of the mistress and focus on his family instead.
Hui then wavered in his decision to kill Tan. He would have likely cancelled the hit on Tan of his own volition before 22 May, said the lawyer.
In any case, said Lee, the murder could never have happened because 'Camorra Hitmen' was a scam.
The lawyer pointed to a 27 July 2018 report in The Times which linked Hui, as "a Singaporean businessman" to a fake hire-a-hitman website which cheats users of their bitcoin until they realise that they are being conned.
Pointing to another report on 4 December 2018 by Wired Magazine, the lawyer argued that a hire-a-hitman website was exposed to be a scam by a man known as Chris Monteiro, who tipped off CBS about the alleged hit in Singapore. The same website had rebranded itself to 'Camorra Hitmen' said the lawyer.
Jealous of new lover
Throughout his relationship with his mistress and even after, Hui showered her with gifts and shared the rental cost of a flat which she stayed in. He also added the woman as a beneficiary to his Central Provident Fund account and life insurance policy.
When Hui found out that the woman was moving on, he became jealous and stalked her.
Between 20 and 27 April, he monitored her social media accounts and saved a profile picture of the man he suspected to be Tan.
At the same time, Hui also started searching for ‘hitmen for hire’ on Google. He then downloaded a Tor Browser to access the Dark Web where he chanced upon the website ‘Camorra Hitmen’.
After a conversation with the woman on 4 May, Hui realised she was in a relationship with Tan and decided to hire a hitman to "remove him" from the woman's life, said the prosecution.
He researched how to purchase and trade in bitcoins and created an account with the ‘Camorra Hitmen’ website. He then sent the website the woman's particulars, asking that the new boyfriend be identified and that his right hand be cut off.
He later amended his order, asking for the woman's boyfriend to have his hand crippled in an accident.
As part of his efforts, Hui recorded Tan's car plate number and later trailed Tan's car to an estate in Hougang Avenue 10. He wanted to confirm Tan's home address but was unable to do so.
Hui later amended his order to pouring acid on Tan’s face and gave Tan's details to the website. After more bitcoin was transferred, Hui settled on having Tan murdered in a staged car accident.
The murder was fixed on 22 May, from 7pm to 8pm. Hui chose this timing as he knew that Tan would be dropping the woman off at the airport and did not want his former lover to be injured.
Hui later instructed that all his communications with ‘Camorra Hitmen’ be removed so that the murder would not be traced back to him. He ultimately paid more than $8,000 in bitcoins.
Ten days before the supposed assassination, CBS informed the MFA Washington Mission of a hit ordered against a Singaporean to take place on 22 May. MFA then alerted the Singapore Police Force.
Hui was arrested by the police seven days before his alleged hit. He was ordered by the police to cancel the hit and withdraw all his bitcoins from his Camorra Hitmen account.
He will be sentenced on 18 September.
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