SINGAPORE - 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 on the bed, Hu Ziqing, 58, choked his 41-year-old wife Liu Bijiao. He released his grip around her neck only after the police came knocking 25 minutes later at their Choa Chu Kang Avenue 2 flat.
On Monday (Nov 2), Hu, now 61, was jailed 10 years after he pleaded guilty to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He had strangled his wife at about 4am on Aug 8, 2013.
He was charged originally with murder but the charge was reduced as he suffered from a psychiatric illness that lowered his mental responsbility for his actions.
The High Court heard that Hu and Madam Liu married in 2006. It was the second marriage for both. Hu's son from his first marriage died from leukemia.
Hu came to Singapore in 2007 on an employment pass, while his wife was on a dependent's pass. Later, he could not get a job and depended on Madam Liu to support him. She was a beautician.
He was due to leave Singapore on Aug 8, 2013 on a 1pm flight for Macau after his dependent's pass was cancelled.
At about 4am that day, he asked Madam Liu to join him in China. She said no as she wanted to stay in Singapore for three more years so that her daughter from her first marriage could finish her tertiary education here.
He then tried to get intimate with her but she pushed him away. They continued to argue and Hu used his hand to cover her mouth as he did not want the neighbours to hear them. When she bit his finger, he reacted by squeezing her neck.
As they struggled, Madam Liu shouted for her daughter to save her. The 18-year-old called the police and let them into the flat.
Yesterday, Hu's lawyer Chua Eng Hui told the court that Hu felt humiliated and depressed about his wife supporting him. The prospect of losing his family again fuelled his sense of hopelessness and worthlessness, he said.
Mr Chua asked for jail of seven to eight years, saying that 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, who had bruises all over her body, suffered a tragic death at the hands of the very person she expected to take care of her.