Businessman convicted of murdering wife's ex-lover

Chia (left, in a 2014 photo) was found guilty of assaulting Mr Chua, together with an accomplice, in December 2013. The attack was so vicious that almost every bone in the victim's face was fractured.
Chia (left, in a 2014 photo) was found guilty of assaulting Mr Chua, together with an accomplice, in December 2013. The attack was so vicious that almost every bone in the victim's face was fractured.LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

A 56-year-old businessman was yesterday convicted of the savage murder of his wife's younger former lover, after the High Court rejected his tangled tale pinning the crime on a mysterious man named Ali.

Chia Kee Chen was found guilty of forcing the victim, 37-year-old material analyst Dexmon Chua Yizhi, into the back of a van and assaulting him, together with 33-year-old Indonesian Febri Irwansyah Djatmiko, between Dec 28 and Dec 29, 2013.

The victim's body was dumped at a military live firing area in Lim Chu Kang. Chia later led police to the spot. The attack was so vicious that almost every bone, from the eye socket to the lower jaw, in the victim's face was fractured.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Chia alone had the motive and intention to kill or cause grievous hurt to Dexmon," said Justice Choo Han Teck.

Chia, who will be sentenced at a later date, faces either the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Earlier during the trial, Chia's wife, 51, testified about her year-long affair with Mr Chua, which began after he started taking her home in his car from their workplace. Mr Chua even filmed their trysts, she said.

During his trial, Chia said he and his two accomplices waited for the victim at a carpark near the younger man's flat to get back a thumbdrive containing a sex tape of his wife. However, he denied assaulting the victim. Instead, he pushed the blame on Ali, whom he claimed to have hired to get back the thumbdrive. His narrative also included an "Indian man" who acted as Ali's messenger.

Chia's account was rejected by Justice Choo, who called him an "unreliable witness". "There is absolutely no other evidence that persuades me that there may be a possibility that Ali and the Indian man might have been involved. Chia started a story which he had difficulty fabricating into a coherent whole."

The judge noted that Chia had given various versions of events which contradicted his own testimony and those of others, as well as "incredible accounts".

For instance, Chia phoned his brother-in-law at about 3am on Dec 29 to seek his help to move a body. But Chia said the purpose of his call was to ask about the market price of birds.

While the judge also found that both Chia and Febri, who is still at large, had the common intention to assault the victim, Chia was the one to deal the crucial blow. "He was the man with the motive and the hatred for Dexmon," he noted.

Chia had also enlisted the help of long-time friend Chua Leong Aik, who drove the van but fled. The 67-year-old is serving a five-year jail term.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Businessman convicted of murdering wife's ex-lover'. Print Edition | Subscribe