Brothel operator to hang for murdering pimp he accused of stealing $6,500

File photograph of brothels and hotels along Lorong 18 Geylang.
File photograph of brothels and hotels along Lorong 18 Geylang.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The operator of a brothel in Geylang was on Wednesday (May 31) sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for killing a pimp with a metal dumbbell rod.

Chan Lie Sian, 53, was found guilty of murder with intention to kill 35-year-old William Tiah Hung Wai, between 11am and 2.30pm on Jan 14, 2014 at the lodging house at Lorong 18 Geylang, which was used as a brothel.

Chan, who is also known as Benny Seow, struck Mr Tiah on the head at least nine times, with a rod measuring 40cm in length and weighing 1.46kg.

The victim, who was in a coma and bleeding from multiple head lacerations when he arrived at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, died seven days later, a day short of his 36th birthday.

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The victim, up to his last breath, denied stealing the $6,500 that Chan had accused him of taking.

Chan later surrendered to the police.

During the trial earlier this year, Chan, who was represented by Mr Kelvin Lim, contended that he struck the victim only twice and that the blows were accidentally. He also argued that he was intoxicated after taking sleeeping pills and drinking cough syrup.

On Wednesday, his account was rejected by Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng, who found that the prosecution had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Chan had intended to kill the victim.

The nature of the attack was vicious and one-sided against an unarmed victim who was smaller in built, she noted. Chan was persistent in his attack; he started hitting the victim in the living room and pursued him into a room at the lodging house where he continued hitting him, she said.

She added that after the victim became unconsciousness, Chan continued striking him, uttering in Hokkien that even if he was not dead, Chan would break his arms and legs.

The two men belonged to the same secret society.

On the morning of Jan 14, 2014, Chan called the victim on the phone, adamant that Mr Tiah had taken $6,500 from his shorts' pockets while he was asleep the night before. Chan demanded that Mr Tiah meet him at the lodging house.

Eyewitnesses testified that there were blood stains on the floor, walls and bed in a room at the lodging house.

Chan told a worker to clean up the scene of the crime, tried to dispose of the murder weapon and tried to stop the crime from being reported.

When the ambulance and police arrived at the scene, Chan lied to the officers that he had found Mr Tiah lying along the pavement and was concerned that he may be run over by vehicles, so he brought the victim onto his front porch.

An autopsy found that Mr Tiah's head was struck at least eight times, each blow with "considerable force" to cause multiple lacerations and extensive skull fractures.