Tale of deception heard as love triangle murder trial begins

Chia arriving for a court hearing on Jan 2, 2014. He faces either the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted of the murder of his wife's younger ex-lover between Dec 28 and Dec 29 in 2013.
Chia arriving for a court hearing on Jan 2, 2014. He faces either the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted of the murder of his wife's younger ex-lover between Dec 28 and Dec 29 in 2013.LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

Wife shows she still has feelings for accused, who allegedly murdered her younger ex-lover

A 50-year-old housewife, whose husband of 25 years is accused of murdering her younger ex-lover, took the stand yesterday on the first day of his trial to tell a tale of deception, suspicion and one errant phone message that led to the alleged love triangle killing.

But showing that she still had feelings for the father of her two children, Madam Serene Goh Yen Hoon, when asked by the prosecution to identify the man in the dock, put a hand on her heart, looked at Chia Kee Chen sorrowfully and told the court softly: "My husband."

Chia, 56, faces the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted of murdering 37-year-old Dexmon Chua Yizhi, between Dec 28 and Dec 29 in 2013.

His wife, a petite and youthful-looking mother of two, who wore a grey hoodie in court, gave an account of her one-year affair with Mr Chua and how her husband reacted in anger when he found out.

Madam Goh was working as a sales executive at a packaging company in 2003 when she met Mr Chua. He was in a different department, but they took the same company transport as they lived in the same area, she said.

  • About the case

  • Businessman Chia Kee Chen, 56, is on trial for the murder of material analyst Dexmon Chua Yizhi between the night of Dec 28 and the early hours of Dec 29, 2013. The murder was allegedly committed in a van together with his Indonesian worker Febri Irwansyah Djatmiko, who is still at large.

    A second accomplice, Chua Leong Aik, who drove the van, is serving a five-year jail term for abduction and causing grievous hurt by dangerous means.

    The prosecution's case is that Chia had roped in the two men to take revenge on Mr Chua, 37, for having an affair with his wife.

    The trio allegedly confronted Mr Chua after he parked his car near his Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 flat.

    Mr Chua was forced into the back of the van, tied up and assaulted. He suffered extensive injuries to his face and head.

    When Chua Leong Aik got cold feet and left the van, Chia allegedly drove the vehicle to a live-firing area in Lim Chu Kang to dump the victim's body.

    Chia returned the van, borrowed from a friend of his sister-in-law, after he and Febri spent an hour washing it at a fish farm.

    After his arrest, Chia led police to Mr Chua's body.

    Selina Lum

In July 2011, Mr Chua, who was married to a Thai woman, offered Madam Goh a ride home in his car. She accepted and from then on, he took her home regularly. They grew closer, she said.

Around the same time, Madam Goh added, she started receiving calls from a woman who claimed to be her husband's wife in Indonesia. But Chia, who owned a fish farm in Tanjung Pinang, denied this.

In August 2011, Madam Goh and Mr Chua started meeting after work for sex - in his car, at his home, and once at a hotel. They also poured out their marital woes to each other. "While I was having an affair with Dexmon, I felt guilty towards my husband," she said.

Mr Chua also recorded a video of their sexual tryst for "sentimental purposes" in June 2012, although he promised to delete it. Soon after, they stopped having sex but continued talking on the phone, she said.

In November that year, when her husband questioned her about text messages from "Dexmon", she admitted to the affair. She told him she was worried that her lover might disseminate the video, and also promised to break off the relationship.

She said her husband phoned Mr Chua and told him to stop seeing her. He also took her to consult mediums, believing that the younger man had "cast a spell" on her.

On the eve of Chinese New Year, she said, Mr Chua mistakenly sent a video greeting on WhatsApp to her. This rekindled her husband's anger, even though she had cut off contact with Mr Chua. That was the last time they spoke about him.

In the early hours of Dec 29, 2013, she was awoken by a call from her husband, who asked for the phone number of her brother Goh Beng Guat. Prosecutors say Chia went on to ask Mr Goh for help to carry Mr Chua's body, but he said no.

That afternoon, Chia, Madam Goh and their two daughters left for a family trip to Johor Baru. When they returned to Singapore on Dec 31, she said they were stopped at Woodlands Checkpoint and told to assist in police investigations.

After his wife's testimony as a prosecution witness, it was the defence's turn to cross-examine her. But Chia, who sat hunched over with his head down, told his lawyer Peter Fernando not to.

The trial continues today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Tale of deception heard as love triangle murder trial begins'. Print Edition | Subscribe