Gardens by the Bay murder trial: Sungei Buloh reservoir drained to look for remains

Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock (in red) faces a possible death sentence for murdering the Chinese national on the morning of July 12, 2016.
Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock (in red) faces a possible death sentence for murdering the Chinese national on the morning of July 12, 2016.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

This was after accused had taken police on futile search for body at Gardens by the Bay

The reservoir at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve had to be drained in an attempt to find the burnt remains of 31-year-old Cui Yajie. But not before Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock led police on a futile search at Gardens by the Bay East.

Khoo claimed he had left Cui at the Gardens after pushing her so hard that her head "hit the cement".

Hours later, after he was allowed to speak to his wife and make a video call to his son, he told investigators he would take them to Lim Chu Kang. It was where he had burned the body of the senior engineer over three days.

Yesterday, the fourth day of Khoo's murder trial, the evidence before the High Court centred on the probe into Ms Cui's killing and efforts to recover her remains.

Khoo, 50, faces a possible death sentence for murdering the Chinese national on the morning of July 12, 2016.

The court heard that after Khoo revealed where he had burned the victim's body, the reservoir at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve was drained to look for her remains. Clumps of hair, pieces of partly burnt fabric and a bra hook were all that was recovered.

Khoo had told police that he had moved the body into a small drain nearby. This drain leads to a monsoon drain, which leads to the wetlands reserve, the court heard.

 
 
 

Deputy Superintendent Tan Lian Heng told the court that after the reservoir was dammed up and its water extracted, investigators scoured the exposed ground. Multiple bone-like structures were recovered, but these were later determined not to be human remains.

On July 25, five days after Khoo's arrest, he led a team of investigators to retrace his steps.

At Marina Gardens Drive, a quiet road near Gardens by the Bay, he described how he had strangled Ms Cui in his car after she threatened to "let everyone know" what a bad man he was.

Khoo told DSP Tan he was so angry with Ms Cui that he clenched his teeth and used one hand to grip her neck before using the other as well.

He led the officers to a minimart in Canberra Link in Sembawang where he bought charcoal on the night of July 12, and to two shops in Kranji Road where he bought charcoal and kerosene on July 13.

Khoo also led investigators to D'Kranji Farm Resort, in the Lim Chu Kang area, where he had checked into a room on July 13, and Jalan Selimang in Sembawang, where he said he threw Ms Cui's ashes into the sea.

They also went to Orchid Country Club, where he said he threw her handbag, mobile phone and wallet into a waste bin on July 14.

The court heard that police determined from surveillance footage that Ms Cui was last seen alive wearing a multi-coloured dress. As the dress was sold out at stores, the police obtained two dresses from people who had bought them and compared them with the pieces of burnt fabric.

In court yesterday, Khoo nodded his head emphatically and confirmed that this was the dress she was wearing at the time.

Superintendent Roy Lim, who interviewed Khoo on July 20, said he continued questioning the laundry shop manager after the fruitless search at Gardens by the Bay East.

Khoo asked to speak to his wife, saying he wanted to be the one to let her know what was happening.

Supt Lim said he agreed and when Khoo's wife turned up, Khoo spoke to his son in a video call, telling the boy to study hard and behave himself. After his wife left, Khoo said he would take the police to Lim Chu Kang, uttering the words "finish" and "nothing left". Defence counsel Mervyn Cheong put it to Supt Lim that his client did not use those words, but the police officer disagreed.

Khoo will take the stand when the trial resumes on Tuesday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2019, with the headline 'Sungei Buloh reservoir drained to look for remains'. Print Edition | Subscribe