Murder of wife's ex-lover: Death penalty sought

Prosecution says assault was 'savage' and 'cruel'; High Court to deliver decision at a later date

Prosecutors yesterday urged the High Court to impose the death penalty on a 57-year-old businessman for the savage murder of his wife's former lover.

Chia Kee Chen had been found guilty in January of forcing the victim, 37-year-old material analyst Dexmon Chua Yizhi, into the back of a van and assaulting him, together with Indonesian Febri Irwansyah Djatmiko, between Dec 28 and Dec 29, 2013.

A second accomplice, Chua Leong Aik, drove the van but later fled.

"This was a planned and premeditated attack on an unsuspecting victim who had made a cuckold out of the accused," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien.

She argued that Chia, who found out about his wife's extramarital affair in November 2012, clearly bore fatal grudges against the younger man.

The victim had made police reports that Chia was making threatening phone calls to him and stalking him.

Ms Tan argued that the assault was "savage" and "cruel". The victim was tied up and thrown into the back of the van and was battered so viciously that almost every bone in his face below the eyes was fractured.

She noted that Chia had carried out his attack in a calm and collected manner. On the day of the murder, he attended a wedding lunch with his family and had a nap before collecting the borrowed van to calmly lay in wait for the victim to turn up at the carpark near his Choa Chu Kang home.

After dumping the victim's body at a military live-firing area in Lim Chu Kang and cleaning the van, Chia went to Malaysia for a holiday with his family.

Ms Tan also pointed to his "utter lack of remorse". It was only 10 days after his arrest that Chia admitted he had hit the victim with a hammer-like object.

During his trial, Chia tried to downplay his role and pinned the blame on a fictional character named "Ali", she pointed out.

But Chia's lawyer, Mr Anand Nalachandran, pushed for life imprisonment, arguing that it was unsafe to hang him as there were contradictions between the accounts of Febri and Chua Leong Aik.

Mr Nalachandran argued that Febri, who fled to Indonesia but had given a statement to local police, cannot be believed as his version was "self-serving". Chua Leong Aik is serving a five-year jail term.

For instance, Febri said the trio had discussed a "murder plan" but Chua Leong Aik said it was just a plan to "attack" the victim to teach him a lesson.

The lawyer argued that there was only a plan to abduct the victim and there was no conclusive evidence that Chia had any plan to commit murder.

Justice Choo Han Teck will deliver his decision at a later date.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'Murder of wife's ex-lover: Death penalty sought'. Print Edition | Subscribe