Woodlands double murder: Accused ‘adamant’ daughter not his, suspected wife of affair

Woodlands double murder: Accused ‘adamant’ daughter not his, suspected wife of affair

Murder suspect Teo Ghim Heng (in red) being escorted from his Woodlands home on Feb 10, 2017
Murder suspect Teo Ghim Heng (in red) being escorted from his Woodlands home on Feb 10, 2017.

SINGAPORE: For months before he allegedly strangled his pregnant wife and daughter, Teo Ghim Heng had suicidal thoughts. 

He also was “adamant” that the four-year-old daughter he had with 39-year-old housewife Choong Pei Shan was not his biological child, and had not forgiven his wife of an affair she had a few years ago.

On top of this, he felt "despair" at not being able to meet his wife’s expectations of him, said a psychiatrist on the witness stand in the double-murder trial on Friday (Jul 5).

Dr Derrick Yeo, a consultant at the Institute of Mental Health's department of forensic psychiatry, had interviewed Teo several times while he was in remand. He found that the accused had no mental disorder and did not suffer from Major Depressive Disorder.

READ: Woodlands double murder: Accused says wife scolded him, called him a 'useless father'

ACCUSED VISITED SEX FORUMS DAY BEFORE KILLINGS

According to Dr Yeo, Teo was regularly intimate with his wife in 2013 but this dropped to one or two occasions per month in 2014.

Teo, 43, purportedly said he had "no urge" to be intimate with his wife and gradually grew impatient with her. The former property agent would lose his temper more easily when his clients made demands of him.

However, when asked by defence lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam if a drop in libido is a symptom of depression, Dr Yeo said it was not specifically a symptom.

The prosecution presented Teo's mobile phone Internet search history in court, which showed that he had visited sex forum Sammyboy Forum multiple times a day from Dec 1, 2016, to Jan 19, 2017, the day before the alleged killings at his Woodlands flat.

Teo visited the website 132 times the day before he allegedly strangled his wife and child.

READ: Woodlands double deaths: Man strangled pregnant wife with towel before killing 4-year-old daughter

As he did not use his phone after the murders in order to avoid creditors, no further visits to the sex site were logged on Teo's phone, but he used his late wife's phone to visit Sammyboy Forum 15 times on Jan 24. This was four days before he was arrested.

After setting fire to the bodies, Teo lay beside them in a suicide attempt.

He eventually left the house because there was a lot of smoke, Teo purportedly told Dr Yeo.

"Fire was burning," he said. "Don't know what to do. (I was) driving around aimlessly." After setting the bodies ablaze with thinner, he ordered McDelivery and would go out to buy food.

In the days after the strangling, Teo was also was able to concoct lies to his family and to creditors.

All this showed "clarity of thought" and "very clear planning", said Dr Yeo.

READ: Woodlands double murder: 'Go find your Mummy first, Papa will come soon,' accused told daughter

MONEY PROBLEMS

According to Dr Yeo, Teo initially "appeared convinced that he wanted to receive the death penalty and that he wanted to die".

However, he later said he was “not sure” about wanting the death penalty.

He had told the psychiatrist about being optimistic about clearing his debts of S$70,000, up until the time of the murders, saying that he “won’t give up hope until the last minute” and “won’t show people that I’m sad or stressed”.

He said: “I will fight to the end. I don’t give up.”

Teo told Dr Yeo that he had a drop in income between 2013 and 2015 as the property market was "bad" due to cooling measures, and he had "no mood to work", adding that he was stationed in a showflat. He said he had "no energy to do anything" and that he was down in spirits.

He felt he had made the wrong decision to switch to doing projects in property, instead of staying on his path in conducting resales of real estate. He was unable to close deals, had no money and even when he brokered a sale, it would "fall apart". 

The court had heard previously about how Teo left his long-time property trade and started work as a sales coordinator at a renovation firm in October 2016, where he drew a base pay of S$1,500.

He said that while he was independent as a property agent, his new job required him to work for others, and he was upset with his wife as he had told her to get a job, but she "refused to work", Dr Yeo said.

WAS HE SUFFERING FROM MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER?

The examination and cross-examination of Dr Yeo also dwelled on whether Teo suffered from Major Depressive Disorder.

The prosecution had said in its opening statement that the defence is likely to rely on three exceptions to murder: That there was grave and sudden provocation, a sudden fight and diminished responsibility.

Dr Yeo had assessed that Teo did not suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. However, a consultant from Changi General Hospital's psychiatric team had diagnosed Teo with depression with homicidal intent and suicidal intent.

Defence lawyer Thuraisingam questioned Dr Yeo about his definitions of depressive symptoms, as well as what Teo had told him in various interviews.

The court heard that Teo had attempted suicide several times. However, Dr Yeo pointed out that in between each attempt, Teo said he watched television, bought bubble tea, bought take-out and drove out to buy food.

For thoughts of death to qualify as a possible depressive symptom, they have to be recurrent, said Dr Yeo.

He had said a day earlier that suicide alone is not sufficient to determine that one suffers from Major Depressive Disorder.

Prompted by the defence, Dr Yeo agreed that the symptom must affect his daily life.

In response to several questions by the defence lawyer about possible symptoms of depression Teo may have exhibited, Dr Yeo repeatedly stressed that they were either not indicative of a disorder on their own, or that clinical criteria were not fulfilled to certify Teo as suffering from the disorder.

If found guilty of murder, Teo faces the death penalty. 

Source: CNA/ll(gs)

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