Gardens by the Bay murder: Accused lied to ex-lover that his wife was his sister

Gardens by the Bay murder: Accused lied to ex-lover that his wife was his sister

Leslie Khoo and Cui Yajie
Leslie Khoo is accused of murdering Ms Cui Yajie on Jul 12, 2016. (Photos: Facebook/Leslie Khoo, Yajie Cui)

SINGAPORE: A man accused of killing his lover at Gardens by the Bay and burning her body in Lim Chu Kang in 2016 after she threatened to expose his lies had told another lover that his wife was his sister.

Khoo's former lover, who identified herself as Ms Lim, told the court that she had met the accused, Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, between March and May in 2014. A few months later, they began dating, she said on Thursday (Mar 14), the third day of the trial.

Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter, Ms Lim said they were "boyfriend and girlfriend" and met once a week or every two weeks.

Khoo had told her that his family was relatively rich, she said, and he was working at Orchid Laundry, his family's business. Unbeknownst to her, he was an employee at Dryclyn Express, and was, and remains, an undischarged bankrupt.

"He told me he was not married and wanted to find a wife," said Ms Lim. "He said that he was single and was around 50 years of age but without a partner, and he wanted to find a partner."

In reality, Khoo was married with a son.

After Ms Lim and Khoo broke up sometime after June 2015, Ms Lim saw Khoo's Facebook profile under "suggested friends". She clicked into his profile and saw a woman inside.

She scrolled through the woman's profile and saw a photo showing the woman, Khoo, and a boy.

"I asked him whether that was his wife and child," said Ms Lim. "He denied, and then claimed that the lady was his sister, because the two persons' surnames are similar - Khoo and Koo."

READ: Gardens by the Bay murder: Man accused of killing lover denies affair with victim

A year later, on Jun 14, 2016, Khoo sent her a message "out of the blue" saying "happy birthday".

He later sent her another message saying "I am still alone now", which Ms Lim took to mean that he wanted to patch things up, and that he was still alone and single.

She responded: "So? She's your ex-wife and son, right?"

This was because "the child looks very similar to him", she said.

Two days later, Khoo messaged Ms Lim and asked her to marry him. She told the court that he had previously said that if he wanted to marry her, he "would host a very grand wedding ceremony".

About a month after Khoo contacted Ms Lim and asked her to marry him, he allegedly killed his lover, 31-year-old engineer Cui Yajie, in his car in a secluded road.

He then took the body to Lim Chu Kang, where he burnt it for a few days. By the time he was arrested and led police to the scene, in his own words, "there was nothing left" but scraps of fabric, hair and a bra hook.

KHOO'S SUPERVISOR SPOKE TO VICTIM BEFORE ALLEGED MURDER

Other than Khoo, his former supervisor at Dryclyn Express Adeline Toh could be one of those who last heard Ms Cui while she was alive.

Ms Toh took the stand on Thursday morning and described how Khoo had called her on the morning of the alleged murder.

Khoo called Ms Toh at around 7.40am on Jul 12, 2016, saying that he was facing some problems.

"He just told me there's this lady (who had) come up to the head office and he got into some problem, so he asked for help," said Ms Toh. "I said ok, how you want me to help, he said ok now I will give her a call and maybe you talk to that lady."

According to the prosecution, Ms Cui had threatened to go to Khoo's workplace to speak to his bosses. This was after Khoo's wife confronted him over a message Ms Cui had sent her.

Ms Toh said she had a three-way conference call with Khoo and a lady who was Ms Cui.

"I asked the lady, how to address you and how to help you, and she said (it was) inconvenient to talk. She said she was heading to Joo Koon MRT Station and he will pick her up from there," Ms Toh recounted.

As she had to go to Westin Hotel, where Khoo said he would meet her later, Ms Toh hung up the phone and headed to the hotel.

Some hours later, Ms Toh texted Khoo, but did not receive any reply. She called him at about 10.20am to ask if he was heading to the hotel. 

"He told me the lady didn't show up," said Ms Toh. "I asked him - then how? He said, never mind, forget about it. So I hung up the phone."

READ: Gardens by the Bay murder: Man claims trial to killing lover, dumping burnt body in Lim Chu Kang

In those hours between the two phone calls, Khoo allegedly picked up Ms Cui from Joo Koon MRT Station and drove her to Marina Gardens Drive, where he strangled her in the front seat.

Khoo is accused of covering Ms Cui's body with laundry bags before buying kerosene and charcoal from Kranji Road, which he allegedly used to burn the body.

A police officer who took the stand on Thursday afternoon described enlarging footage that showed Khoo's car at an entrance to Gardens by the Bay, as well as at D'Kranji Farm Resort.

In stills taken from the footage, a person could be seen in the driver's seat, along with a "white object" in between the front passenger seat and the driver's seat.

The trial, which is set to run for at least nine more days, resumes on Friday.

Source: CNA/ll(hm)

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