Hours before he was to return to China, a jobless man made a last-ditch attempt to persuade his wife to go back with him. But she refused, saying that she would rather die here.
Their heated quarrel escalated into a scuffle and, as they struggled from the bed onto the floor, Hu Ziqing choked his 41-year-old wife Liu Bijiao. He released his grip around her neck 25 minutes later after the police came knocking at their Choa Chu Kang Avenue 2 flat.
Yesterday, Hu, now 61, was jailed 10 years after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide for strangling his wife at about 4am on Aug 8, 2013.
He was originally charged with murder but the charge was reduced as he suffered from depression and had psychotic symptoms at the time of the killing. A government psychiatrist found that this reduced his mental responsibility for his actions.
The High Court heard yesterday that Hu and Madam Liu married in 2006. It was the second marriage for both. Madam Liu had a daughter with her former husband, while Hu's son from his first marriage died from leukaemia.
Hu came to Singapore in 2007 on an employment pass, while his wife was on a dependant's pass. Later, he could not get a job and lived off Madam Liu, who worked as a beautician to support him.
He was due to leave Singapore on Aug 8, 2013, on a 1pm flight for Macau after his dependant's pass was cancelled. At about 4am that day, he woke Madam Liu up and asked her to quit her job and join him in China.
She said no as she wanted to stay in Singapore for three more years so that her daughter, who came to Singapore in 2009, could finish her tertiary education here.
Madam Liu told him to respect her decision as she had supported him for the past few years. He retorted that she and her daughter would not have come to Singapore if it were not for him.
Hu then tried to get intimate with her but she pushed him away. As they argued, Hu put his hand over Madam Liu's mouth because he did not want the neighbours to hear her. When she bit his finger, he squeezed her neck. As they struggled, Madam Liu shouted for her daughter to save her.
The 18-year-old, who heard banging sounds, called the police.
A neighbour upstairs who heard "horrifying" cries for help also called the police. The fracas also woke up three sub-tenants in the flat. One of them heard Madam Liu saying in Mandarin: "Husband, I am not like that."
An autopsy found injuries to her neck, including a fracture of the thyroid cartilage, as well as bruises and abrasions all over her body.
Yesterday, Hu's lawyer Chua Eng Hui told the court that his client, who has a family history of mental illness, felt humiliated and depressed at being supported by his wife, who gave him a $150 monthly allowance.
The prospect of losing his family again fuelled his sense of fear, hopelessness and worthlessness, he said.
Mr Chua asked for jail of seven to eight years, saying the loss of "the most important person in his life" was in itself a severe punishment.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Shi asked for at least 12 years, arguing that Madam Liu suffered a tragic death at the hands of the very person she expected to take care of her. Culpable homicide carries life imprisonment or up to 20 years in jail, and a fine.