Ex-top detective dies after heart attack

Former top cop Richard Lim (above) kept detailed handwritten case notes in over 20 A4-sized notebooks.
Former top cop Richard Lim (above) kept detailed handwritten case notes in over 20 A4-sized notebooks.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

Richard Lim solved many sensational cases, including murder instigated by Anthony Ler

A retired ace investigator who cracked several high-profile murder cases during his three decades with the police force has died.

Former assistant superintendent Richard Lim Beng Gee died at home on Saturday after he had a heart attack, family members said.

He also suffered from complications related to diabetes and a kidney condition. He was 65.

During his 21 years with the Criminal Investigation Department, he was lauded for his keen observation skills and meticulous detective work.

One of the most sensational cases that he helped solve was the brutal murder of insurance agent Annie Leong in 2001. It later emerged that her estranged husband, Anthony Ler, had paid a 15-year-old boy to stab her to death.

Former top cop Richard Lim kept detailed handwritten case notes in over 20 A4-sized notebooks (above). PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

Mr Lim led a six-man team from the Special Investigation Section, and they worked round the clock for 93 hours before solving the case.

A crucial lead they picked up was a torn piece of newspaper from the crime scene, which matched the pages found in Ler's home.

His team was presented with an Operational Efficiency Award in 2002 for its efforts.

"His mind was always sharp, even when he was under tremendous pressure to solve the cases," said Mr Foo Siang Luen, 60, who spoke to Mr Lim in four interviews for a book published in 2005 called Justice Is Done, on the decade's most gripping murder cases in Singapore.

Other cases he cracked included the murder of a 26-year-old Bulgarian woman in 1998, which was solved in just 36 hours.

Ms Iordanka Apostolova's body was found in the Tanah Merah canal with slash marks on the neck and chest, and stones tied to the legs. Two petrol kiosk receipts eventually led to the capture of her murderer Shaiful Edham Adam, then 22.

Speaking to The Straits Times at his wake in Bukit Batok yesterday, his daughter, Ms Jane Lim, 35, said her father kept detailed handwritten case notes in more than 20 A4-sized notebooks. "Those days were before CCTV cameras and GPS, so he would be drawing maps from scratch, and writing out very neatly the entire chronology of the case," the civil servant added.

Among the sketches in his notebook is that of a crime scene at the former Oriental Hotel, where a Japanese tourist was found dead in 1994. The sketch included a floor plan and where each piece of evidence - including a cigarette butt and a brown handbag with the zip open - had been found.

Ms Lim also remembered how her father would spend hours poring over the notes and photos on the floor of their home.

He retired in 2003, when his diabetes got worse, and his family helped him store away the notebooks and many awards and certificates he had received.

Mr Lim, who was born in Penang, came to Singapore at age 20 to interview for a job with the police force.

It was his first full-time job after leaving secondary school and it turned out to be a lifelong career he was passionate about as well.

Ms Lim said: "What kept him going was the desire to have justice done. It's a thankless job, in a way, since the person you're helping was already dead. But he wanted to make sure the family of the deceased received the justice they deserved."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-top detective dies after heart attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe