Businessman who murdered wife's ex-lover sentenced to death upon prosecution's appeal

Chia Kee Chen (pictured) had abducted Dexmon Chua Yizhi in Choa Chu Kang, forced him into the back of a van and severely assaulted him between Dec 28 and Dec 29 in 2013. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A 58-year-old businessman, who was originally given life imprisonment for the "bloody and brutal" murder of his wife's former lover, was sentenced to hang on Wednesday (June 27) after the apex court overturned the earlier decision and allowed an appeal by prosecutors for the death penalty.

A three-judge Court of Appeal said the actions of Chia Kee Chen "exhibited such viciousness and such a blatant disregard for the life of the deceased, and are so grievous an affront to humanity and so abhorrent that the death penalty is the appropriate, indeed the only adequate sentence".

The court noted that the death penalty, being the "final and terminal sentence", should be imposed only after "the most anxious consideration".

Chia had abducted the victim, material analyst Dexmon Chua Yizhi, 37, near his Choa Chu Kang flat, forced him into the back of a van and severely assaulted him between Dec 28 and Dec 29 in 2013.

The Singaporean had an accomplice, Indonesian Febri Irwansyah Djatmiko, 35, who fled the country.

A second accomplice, Chua Leong Aik, 67, who drove the van, is serving a five-year term.

The victim's body was later dumped in a military live-firing area in Lim Chu Kang.

Explaining its reasons for imposing the death sentence, the court said Chia was the mastermind as he wanted to exact revenge on the victim for carrying on an affair with his wife, who is 52 this year.

Although the defence argued that Febri was the one who inflicted the blows, the court pointed out that he was doing so under Chia's directions.

"One who hires an assassin to kill another or who otherwise controls a killer, cannot be less culpable than the one who does the killing," said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who delivered the judgment.

The court added that Chia did not tell Febri to stop attacking the victim but joined in the assault.

The court also said Chia showed a high degree of planning and premeditation. He was familiar with the victim's movements, recruited accomplices, procured a van, and knew where to dump the body.

The attack on the victim was "undeniably vicious and brutal", said the court. Almost every facial bone, from the victim's eye socket to the lower jaw, was fractured. Blood was found on the ceiling, rear door and side of the van.

The court also noted that after dumping the body and washing the van, Chia calmly left for Malaysia with his wife and daughters for a holiday, taking the opportunity to take Febri out of Singapore.

Referring to Chua's police statements, the court said the picture that emerges was that Chia wanted the victim to suffer as much as possible. "The only regret that Chia ever expressed was that the deceased had died before he could cause the deceased even more suffering."

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