Cabby gets 20 years' jail for dousing girlfriend with petrol and setting her on fire

The gate and door of the Sengkang flat were badly burned in the fire. A 45-year-old cabby, who killed his former girlfriend by dousing her with petrol and setting her alight after she refused to get back together, was on Monday sentenced to 20 years
The gate and door of the Sengkang flat were badly burned in the fire. A 45-year-old cabby, who killed his former girlfriend by dousing her with petrol and setting her alight after she refused to get back together, was on Monday sentenced to 20 years in prison. -- FILE PHOTO: SHIN MIN

A 45-year-old cabby, who killed his former girlfriend by dousing her with petrol and setting her alight after she refused to get back together, was on Monday sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Lim Ghim Peow had pleaded guilty on Jan 13 to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. His victim, Ms Mary Yoong Mei Ling, 43, suffered burns on 75 per cent of her body after the attack at her aunt's Sengkang flat in May 2012. She died 14 hours later in hospital.

Handing down the sentence, Judicial Commissioner Tan Siong Thye said the killing was "heinous" and warranted a long jail term because of the level of pre-meditation involved. He said the public needed to be protected from Lim's quick temperedness and "violent disposition", noting that he had devised the plan in a "cold, conscientious" manner.

Lim had a rocky relationship with Ms Yoong, who was once jailed in China for human trafficking. The duo, who were both divorced, started a relationship in September 2008. After their relationship turned rocky in 2011 and Lim slapped her after a row, she broke up with him and moved out for good. He persistently begged for a reconciliation but she refused. Lim told her in text messages that he would not leave her alone even if he became a ghost.

In February 2012, he threatened to set fire to her friend's flat and bought a four-litre tin of petrol. His brother told him not to "act crazy" but he kept the fuel. Lim became increasingly depressed and started taking methamphetamine. Meanwhile, Ms Yoong began a new relationship with plans for marriage and moved to Johor Baru.

On May 22, 2012, she returned to Singapore to vote in the Hougang by-election and stayed at her aunt's flat in Compassvale Lane. Lim turned up the next day and knelt before her and sobbed while she scolded him. He then resolved to burn her to death and then set fire to himself.

Lim repacked the petrol into plastic bottles and loitered around the flat to wait for Ms Yoong. At 1 am on May 25, Lim placed the bottles of petrol outside the Sengkang flat and waited at the staircase landing. At about 8.30am, when Ms Yoong was leaving, he rushed towards her, holding a bottle of petrol and a lighter.

She ran back into the flat and shut the gate, but he grabbed her through the grille and poured petrol over her head as she shouted for her cousin, Mr Phua Duan Kai.

When Lim felt his grip loosening, he set her alight. Ms Yoong was engulfed in flames, which spread to the door and ceiling. Mr Phua also caught fire.

The maximum penalty for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, where the act is done with the intention of causing death or injuries likely to cause death, is life imprisonment or a jail term of up to 20 years, and caning or a fine.

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