Gardens by the Bay murder trial: If I wanted to kill, I would have had a better plan, says accused

Accused murderer Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock (in red) said  would not have gotten caught if he intended to commit murder, as he would have had a proper plan.
Accused murderer Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock (in red) said would not have gotten caught if he intended to commit murder, as he would have had a proper plan.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

Man had said in statement after arrest that he is good in his work and would not make mistakes

If he had intended to commit murder, he would not have been caught as he would have had a proper plan.

That was accused killer Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock's statement a day after his arrest, when police informed him that he was being charged with the murder of 31-year-old engineer Cui Yajie.

The statement was read out in court yesterday as the prosecution ended its three-day cross-examination of Khoo in his ongoing trial.

Khoo had strangled Ms Cui, a Chinese national, inside his car in a road near Gardens by the Bay on July 12, 2016. He later burned her body in Lim Chu Kang Lane 8.

Faced with a murder charge on July 21 that year, Khoo denied he had any intention to kill her. "If I had the intention, I would have had a better plan," he said in the handwritten statement.

Khoo, who went to jail in 2010 for cheating offences, said in the statement that he was caught in the past because he did not plan properly.

He concluded in the statement: "I am good in my work. If I plan carefully, I would not make mistakes."

Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair said of the statement: "This was the arrogance of a conman."

The senior counsel contended that despite holding himself out as a reformed and religious person after his release from prison in 2012, Khoo continued his cheating activities and his extramarital affairs.

Khoo replied: "I've already tried my best but it's inevitable. I don't have the intention. Please don't malign me."

Mr Nair said: "You finally met a woman who did not simply accept your lies... Unlike the other women, she was asking for her money back and would not take no for an answer."

 
 
 

When Khoo insisted that "everyone made profits", Mr Nair remarked: "Your capacity to lie amazes me." He pointed out that witnesses had testified they had not got their money back.

Putting the prosecution's case to Khoo, Mr Nair said that when Ms Cui told him over the phone in the early hours of July 12 that she was going to his company, he tried to talk her out of it but failed.

Khoo then tried a different strategy, starting a three-way call with his supervisor in hopes of stopping Ms Cui. This plan failed when the victim said it was inconvenient to talk as she was on the train.

Khoo's next strategy was telling Ms Cui that he would pick her up and take her to his supervisor. Instead of doing so, Khoo drove to a secluded road and begged her again not to expose him. This, too, failed.

Faced with the prospect of losing his job, his family and going back to jail, Khoo strangled the victim. "You knew exactly what you were doing," said Mr Nair.

After killing her, Khoo decided on the same day that he was going to burn the body, Mr Nair continued.

Khoo initially told police that he bought charcoal from a minimart in Sembawang on the night of the killing. He later said he could not remember which day he went. Surveillance footage showed a man carrying bags to a black BMW but no positive identification could be made.

Mr Nair said Khoo then took care to throw away Ms Cui's belongings and some of his own items into different rubbish bins.

Khoo will be questioned by his own lawyer on the stand today. He will not be calling his wife to testify.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'Accused: If I wanted to kill, I would have had a better plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe