SINGAPORE: Taking his turn to cross-examine a man on trial for murdering his pregnant wife and his daughter, a prosecutor charged that the man's wife had known about the accused's financial problems and that the pair had set a date for abortion due to these issues.
Teo Ghim Heng, 44, a property agent-turned-sales coordinator, had told the court on Tuesday (Jan 28) morning that his wife did not know about the S$100,000 to S$150,000 in debt he owed colleagues, customers and his daughter's pre-school.
She knew about it only on Jan 13, 2017, seven days before he allegedly strangled her with a towel and then their four-year-old daughter, claimed Teo.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Han Ming Kuang produced evidence in the form of chat logs and medical reports to show that the couple had visited the KK Women's and Children's Hospital in November 2016 and set a date for an abortion.
"Financial reasons" was listed for why they wanted the abortion.
Teo's wife, 39-year-old Choong Pei Shan, was more than four months pregnant with their son at the time.
The abortion was set for Nov 29, 2016, but they did not go ahead with it after attending abortion and financial counselling.
This, along with a message Madam Choong sent her husband on Jan 10, 2017, showed that she knew about the financial problems, said Mr Han.
Teo had said that his wife found about about his debts only on Jan 13, 2017, when a creditor turned up at their house and asked his wife for the S$21,000 Teo owed.
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In her message on Jan 10, 2017, Mdm Choong wrote: "Baby I'm sorry. I feel so helpless that I can't help you to pay all the debts and you have to pay alone. I know your limits. Please wait for me, after our son is two years old then I can go back to work. At least both of us can work and clear our debts."
In response, Teo replied: "Ok baby it is my duty to work for the house. I will work harder to settle all our debt."
Mr Han said Teo did not bring up the topic of his wife seeking part-time work in any of the chat logs retrieved from his phone.
Teo said he spoke to her about it in person and claimed she did not want to take on part-time work.
Mr Han said that there was not "a single harsh word" either from his wife to Teo or from Teo to his wife in the chat logs.
Instead, the couple were affectionate to each other in their frequent messages, expressing their love for each other, with Teo saying he missed his wife, their daughter and their unborn son, whom he called "small small baby".
TEO NEVER FORGAVE HIS WIFE FOR AFFAIR: PROSECUTOR
Mr Han also charged that Teo "never forgave" his wife for the affair she had in 2014 and never forgot it either.
"I forget," responded Teo. "I forgive her and forget the incident."
However, Mr Han produced a report from a psychiatrist who interviewed Teo. The report read: "Accused reported that 'I forgave about 60 per cent, but I never forget."
"In fact, Mr Teo, you went further than that," said Mr Han. "You would skip your lunchtime and the time to meet your clients to spot check on (Mdm Choong), didn't you?"
Teo said he did not remember.
Mr Han continued quoting Teo from the documents presented to the court: "I became increasingly distracted at work, worrying all the time that my wife was cheating on me while I was at work. As such, I started cancelling appointments in the middle of the day to conduct spot checks on my wife and this greatly affected my sales volume."
Teo said he had tried to forgive and forget.
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"It takes time for a man to forgive and forget," he said, referring to the period of time immediately following the affair in 2014. "By the time, after one year, I really tried to forgive and forget for the sake of my daughter."
However, Mr Han said Teo had still not forgotten about it in January 2017.
Teo had told his wife: "I'm working so hard to provide for the family. You even refused to find a part-time job to supplement the household income. How can we get by with so many monthly expenses on my salary alone? I don't even know what you are doing when you are at home. Are you just surfing Facebook and visiting someone’s Facebook page?"
Teo had specified that the "someone" referred to the man he caught his wife having an affair with in 2014.
However, Teo maintained that he had forgiven his wife, on account of his daughter.
The trial continues for the rest of the week, with the defence continuing its case. At the close of its case, the prosecution offered to the defence as a possible defence witness the man whom the victim had an affair with.
Other than the accused, the defence said on Tuesday morning that it intended to call a psychiatrist, as well as a relative of the accused, to the stand.
If found guilty of murder, Teo faces the death penalty.