Former detective Richard Lim Beng Gee, 65, dies: 5 high-profile cases he helped crack

Mr Lim in a 1999 interview about the murder of Bulgarian Iordanka Apostolova. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Mr Lim had accumulated over 20 A4-sized notebooks during the course of his work. ST PHOTO: NG HUIWEN
The contents of one of Mr Lim's notebooks. ST PHOTO: NG HUIWEN
Mr Lim's A4-sized notebooks (left) and awards that he received over the years. PHOTOS: LIANHE WANBAO
The newspaper articles about Mr Lim that his daughter collected for him. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - Former assistant superintendent Richard Lim Beng Gee, who died on Saturday (Jan 16) aged 65 from a heart attack, was known for cracking some of Singapore's most high-profile crime cases.

The Penang-born Mr Lim spent 21 years with the Criminal Investigation Department and was lauded for his keen observation skills and meticulous detective work.

Among some of the cases the ace investigator had a hand in solving included the murder of insurance agent Annie Leong in 2001.

He led a six-man team, working round the clock for 93 hours, to deduce that it was Madam Leong's estranged husband, Anthony Ler, who paid a 15-year-old boy to stab her to death.

Here's a look at five notable cases that Mr Lim was involved in.

Killing by proxy: The Anthony Ler case

Ler leaving the High Court, with his wrists and ankles handcuffed. PHOTO: ST FILE

What happened: Insurance agent Annie Leong, 30, was stabbed in the neck near her Hougang flat and bled to death. Investigations revealed that her estranged husband, Anthony Ler Wee Teng, 33, had hired a 15-year-old boy to commit the crime.

Where and when: Fourth floor of Block 923, Hougang Street 91, on May 18, 2001.

Ler looking at his wife's photo during the wake. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

How the case was solved: While searching the area, Staff Sergeant S. Ravindra chanced upon a rolled-up piece of newspaper - the front page of the April 23, 2001, edition of The New Paper.

While interviewing Ler at his flat, Staff Sgt Ravindra noticed a stack of newspapers, on top of which was a copy of The New Paper with the front page missing. He seized the papers, along with Ler's file of horse-racing results that contained the back page of the corresponding newspaper.

He then interviewed some of Ler's teenage friends, two of whom blurted out that Ler had tried to hire two of them to kill his wife. One, known as Charlie, later admitted to the crime but Ler refused to confess.

The newspaper (left) used to wrap the murder weapon and the computer Ler used to communicate with "Charlie". PHOTOS: ST FILE

Charlie had engaged with Ler in a typed "conversation" three days after the murder as Ler had feared his flat was bugged - after seizing Ler's computer, police managed to recover snippets of the exchange although the files had been erased.

Ler's fate was sealed when police were able to match the front and back pages of the newspaper.

Verdict: Ler was sentenced to hang on Dec 5, 2001. The teen perpetrator was under 18 and spared the death penalty, but imprisoned indefinitely at the President's pleasure.

Bulgarian woman's body found in canal, case solved in 36 hours

Ms Apostolova had came to Singapore from Bulgaria in October 1996. PHOTO: POLICE

What happened: Student Iordanka Apostolova, 26, was brutally stabbed and had her throat cut by 22-year-old Shaiful Edham Adam, with the help of 26-year-old Norishyam Mohamed Ali.

Where and when: A flat in Block 107, Depot Road, on Jan 11, 1998.

The parang (left) used on Ms Apostolova in the kitchen (right) of the Depot Road flat. PHOTO: CID/POLICE

How the case was solved: For more than 18 hours after Ms Apostolova's body - with a sack tied to her legs - was fished out of a canal near Tanah Merah Ferry Road on Jan 13, 1998, she could not be identified.

A search of the surrounding area yielded a receipt from an Esso petrol station in Frankel Avenue. Police deduced that she was a boxing fan from the badges pinned to her T-shirt and subsequently identified her.

Her former flatmate led the police to Shaiful, a commodities trader. Questioning of Shaiful and his wife Hezlinda A. Rahman revealed inconsistencies in their stories, while CCTV footage from the petrol station showed Shaiful there at the time recorded on the receipt.

Shaiful Edham Adam (left) and Norishyam Mohamed Ali (right). PHOTOS: POLICE

Shaiful's former employer searched the Depot Road flat he had rented out to the couple and found bloodstains, which were matched to the victim.

Shaiful confessed, and two days after he was charged, lorry driver Norishyam surrendered to the police.

Verdict: Both men were sentenced to hang on Aug 14, 1998. Hezlinda was jailed for six years in a separate trial for helping to dispose of Ms Apostolova's body.

Assault on two Japanese tourists in 5-star hotel

Japanese tourists Isae Fujii (left) and Miyoko Takashita. PHOTOS: HANDOUT/ST FILE

What happened: Cleaner Isae Fujii, 49, and her colleague Miyoko Takashita were set upon and robbed in their hotel room by two men. Madam Fujii was beaten so savagely she died.

Where and when: Room 910 at Hotel Oriental Singapore, on June 6, 1994.

A sketch of the crime scene found in Mr Lim's notebook, dated June 6, 1994. ST PHOTO: NG HUIWEN

How the case was solved: Both women had just checked into their hotel room, hours after landing in Singapore on their first overseas trip.

They were followed into the room by two men - later revealed to be Abdul Nasir Amer Hamsah and Abdul Rahman Arshad - who robbed and beat them; Madam Fujii was so savagely beaten and stamped that her face caved in and she suffocated to death from broken bones lodged in her throat.

The hotel's CCTV footage revealed nothing and the two fingerprints found on an envelope in the room did not match any in the Criminal Records Office.

Nineteen months passed before police, checking the fingerprints of two robbers who had tried to murder a taxi driver, found that one of them was a perfect match for those found at the hotel.

Abdul Nasir (left) arriving in court on June 27, 1996. PHOTO: ST FILE

Abdul Nasir was taken in for questioning and admitted to the murder. He also told police his accomplice, Abdul Rahman, was in jail for theft.

Verdict: On July 4, 1996, Abdul Nasir was acquitted of murder (he maintained that he had accidentally stepped on Madam Fujii's head) but sentenced to 18 years' jail and 18 strokes of the cane. A day later, Abdul Rahman was sentenced to 10 years' jail and 16 strokes of the cane.

Taxi driver killed by three men

From left: Wan Kamil Mohamed Shafian, Rosli Ahmat and Ibrahim Mohamed. PHOTOS ST FILE

What happened: Three men - Wan Kamil Mohamed Shafian, 34; Ibrahim Mohamed, 35; and Rosli Ahmat, 30 - boarded 42-year-old Koh Ngiap Yong's Tibs taxi and had only meant to steal it for use as an escape vehicle for a planned crime spree.

But the trio, who were armed with two guns and a bayonet, ended up handcuffing Mr Koh, a father of three, before stabbing him several times in the chest and neck with the bayonet.

Where and when: A deserted area near Chestnut Avenue in Upper Bukit Timah on Aug 8, 2000

Cabbie Koh Ngiap Yong. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

How the case was solved: All three were caught on Oct 15 by a team of Special Tactics and Rescue (Star) officers, and the guns were found in Wan Kamil's home.

The taxi, which they dumped at a multi-storey carpark in Bukit Batok Central on the night of the murder, had been recovered earlier.

But there was little evidence for the police to work with, until Mr Lim contacted a good friend of Wan Kamil's, who informed him that there was a locker in a Choa Chu Kang shopping mall that belonged to Wan Kamil.

A bayonet was found in the locker. While no traces of blood were found on it at first, traces of Mr Koh's blood were later found in the handle after it was taken apart.

This Colt semi-automatic pistol was used by the trio to threaten Mr Koh. PHOTO: ST FILE

The bayonet had been bought by Wan Kamil in Thailand, where he also purchased the pistol and revolver that were meant to be used in the planned crime spree.

Verdict: All three were sentenced to hang on Sept 5, 2001, after a 19-day trial

Teenage girl kidnapped while walking home

The bedroom in which the kidnappers kept the 14-year-old girl. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

What happened: The 14-year-old daughter of a wealthy car dealer was pulled into a van, blindfolded and tied with adhesive tape while walking home.

Vincent Lee Chuan Leong. PHOTO: POLICE

She was kept in a nearby rented house in Lorong Kismis for nearly 60 hours while her abductors - mastermind Vincent Lee Chuan Leong, 33, and Chinese nationals Zhou Jian Guang, 26, and Shi Song Jing, 29 - negotiated for a $500,000 ransom, which was later lowered to $330,000.

Where and when: Along Sian Tuan Avenue near Binjai Park on Sept 9, 1999.

How the case was solved: The kidnappers' identities were tracked down through a credit card, which had been used to buy a prepaid phone card so the girl could talk to her father.

The ransom was paid on Sept 11 and the girl freed at about 7.40am the next morning.

Twenty minutes after her release, Lee - a bankrupt who held degrees in mathematics and finance - was arrested at his five-room Pasir Ris flat.

Chinese nationals Shi Song Jing and Zhou Jian Guang. PHOTOS: POLICE

Zhou and Shi were arrested at a flat in Telok Blangah Crescent on Sept 14.

Verdict: Lee was sentenced to life in prison on April 24, 2000. His two accomplices received the same sentence five days later.

Read about other crimes that have shaken Singapore since 1965 in The Straits Times' Star E-Books app.

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