Suspect asked victim to be girlfriend at first meeting

Accused murderer Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, 50, made a "heroic" first impression on his victim, the High Court heard yesterday.

He asked senior engineer Cui Yajie to be his girlfriend at their first encounter. She agreed within a month.

An account of how the couple's relationship started in 2015, and later soured, was relayed in court when one of the victim's colleagues took the stand.

Khoo is accused of strangling Ms Cui, 31, in his car on July 12, 2016.

Ms Wu Wenjuan, who was close to Ms Cui, told the court that the victim would share details of her relationship over lunch.

Ms Cui met Khoo on the day she had gone to her former boyfriend's condominium, hoping to patch things up with him. When her former boyfriend refused to open the door, she began crying loudly outside, leading to a security guard appearing at the scene.

At this point, Khoo walked out of another unit and told the guard that Ms Cui was his friend, sparing her from being chased away, said Ms Wu. He then drove her home, telling her on the way that it was her former boyfriend's loss not to treasure her. He also asked her to be his girlfriend.

Ms Cui agreed after a month, although Ms Wu said she and others cautioned her against going out with a man who would ask a stranger to be his girlfriend.

Ms Wu said Ms Cui later found out that Khoo was not single as he had claimed, when she found evidence online that he was married.

Ms Cui accepted Khoo's lie that he had been divorced for three years. But she grumbled that Khoo spent the weekends in church with his "former wife" and son.

She also tried to get pregnant so that he would spend more time and energy on her, and even sought medical help, said Ms Wu.

As it turned out, Ms Cui was just one of Khoo's many lovers.

After he was arrested for murdering Ms Cui, others came forward to report that he had cheated them of money, including former lovers.

One of them, a hairdresser who got into a relationship with Khoo in October 2014, said he told her he was single and lived in Sentosa.

She borrowed $30,000 from her siblings to invest in his laundry business, which she thought he owned.

Selina Lum

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2019, with the headline 'Suspect asked victim to be girlfriend at first meeting'. Print Edition | Subscribe