Woman gets 12 1/2 years for killing 'best friend'

Ang Soo Hoon (top) and property agent Celine Ng Swee Peng (above) had been close friends since 1995. After the killing, Ang lied that Ms Ng was missing and even joined Ms Ng's mother and brother to make a police report.
Ang Soo Hoon (above) and property agent Celine Ng Swee Peng had been close friends since 1995. After the killing, Ang lied that Ms Ng was missing and even joined Ms Ng's mother and brother to make a police report.ST FILE PHOTOS
Ang Soo Hoon (top) and property agent Celine Ng Swee Peng (above) had been close friends since 1995. After the killing, Ang lied that Ms Ng was missing and even joined Ms Ng's mother and brother to make a police report.
Ang Soo Hoon and property agent Celine Ng Swee Peng (above) had been close friends since 1995. After the killing, Ang lied that Ms Ng was missing and even joined Ms Ng's mother and brother to make a police report.ST FILE PHOTOS

Derivatives dealer strangled housemate but claimed victim had asked for help to die

They were best friends who lived together and were even lesbian lovers for a time. But one has now been sentenced to 12 1/2 years in jail for killing the other in bizarre circumstances, then dumping her body in Clementi Woods.

By the time 36-year-old Celine Ng Swee Peng was found in July 2011, 40 days after she was choked to death, all that was left were her skeletal remains. An autopsy could not determine how she died.

Yesterday, 40-year-old derivatives dealer Ang Soo Hoon sobbed in court as she admitted to strangling her friend of 16 years. She uttered "thank you, Your Honour" after she was sentenced.

She claimed that on the night of the killing, it was Ms Ng who had asked her to "help her die". She tried to smother Ms Ng, but when that failed, the victim got angry and called her friend "useless".

  • How she disposed of the body

  • After choking her friend Celine Ng Swee Peng to death in the apartment they shared, Ang Soo Hoon, also known as Ash, decided to dispose of the body. The problem was how.

    Her initial plan was to use a trolley in Ms Ng's car but she realised the body would be visible to others. She tried to stuff Ms Ng into a box but could not fit the legs in and the cardboard tore.

    Ang then stole $1,000 from Ms Ng and, not wanting the purchase to be traced back to her, used it to buy a wheelchair from the National University Hospital.

    On the night of May 26, 2011, Ang put Ms Ng's body on the wheelchair, even putting on a pair of shoes on the body. In the early hours of the next day, Ang pushed Ms Ng's body to the car.

    She propped her up on the back seat and used a jacket to cover her face.

    With the corpse in the back seat, she drove across Singapore - from the West Coast area to the East Coast area, Changi and Sentosa - taking small breaks in between.

    It was past midnight on May 28 when she decided to dump the body at a bushy area along Clementi Road (below). She stopped the car at a bus stop, used the trolley to move the body, then dragged the body down a slope near a wall of plants. She then covered Ms Ng's body, which had only underwear on, with leaves.

    After hiding the body, she picked up and threw away items that fell off Ms Ng's body along the way. She then slept in the car before driving back to the apartment to wash up.

    Later that day, Ang left the wheelchair at an eldercare home in Balestier.

Angered by the insult, Ang put her in a chokehold, only letting go when Ms Ng, a property agent, was no longer breathing.

She took Ms Ng's own money to buy a wheelchair, which she used to sneak the body out from the West Coast condominium they lived in. She drove around Singapore with the corpse in the back seat to look for a dumping site.

Then she lied to Ms Ng's family that her friend had gone abroad suddenly, keeping up the pretence by even lodging a missing person's report with the police.

Ang yesterday pleaded guilty to culpable homicide, misappropriating $1,000 from Ms Ng and giving a false account of her "disappearance" to the police.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) David Khoo highlighted to the court that the circumstances of the killing were based solely on Ang's account. He pointed out that Ms Ng did not show any suicidal tendencies. Instead, she was jovial, bought the condo eight months before, and had celebrated her birthday just before her death.

When asked why the decision was made to reduce the initial charge of murder to one of culpable homicide, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) told The Straits Times it did so only after carefully considering the facts of the case.

"As highlighted by the DPP in court, the accused confessed to the killing only 1½ months later after the skeletal remains of the deceased were discovered. Because of the long delay in the accused's crime being brought to light, whatever objective evidence which could have shed light on the case was no longer available by the time she confessed," said an AGC spokesman. "The DPP had urged the court to view this as an aggravating factor in sentencing the accused."

The two women had been close friends since 1995, when they were at Ngee Ann Polytechnic together.

They had a brief intimate relationship in 2010, when they shared a place in Balestier Road, and continued to live together when Ms Ng got her new place.

On the night of May 25, 2011, they celebrated Ms Ng's birthday with three other friends at a bar in Fullerton Bay Hotel, before returning to the victim's apartment for more drinks. After the friends left at 4am, Ms Ng tried calling a former girlfriend, according to Ang. She became agitated when she did not get a reply - despite the relationship having ended two years before.

Ang told Ms Ng that her former girlfriend was seeing someone else. That was when Ms Ng asked Ang to help her die, according to Ang.

Ms Ng asked to be smothered with a pillow, which Ang did half-heartedly. Ms Ng pushed the pillow away and called her "useless". Ang said she became furious and held Ms Ng's neck in an armlock. Ms Ng struggled but by the time Ang let go, Ms Ng was dead.

Later that morning, Ang even met Ms Ng's mother to collect mee sua noodles and a red packet meant to mark her daughter's birthday.

Later, Ang threw away Ms Ng's passport and an overnight bag. After disposing of the body, Ang also joined Ms Ng's mother and brother to make a police report.

On July 5, Ms Ng's body was found. Six days later, Ang was arrested and confessed.

As part of her mitigation, defence lawyer Sunil Sudheesan urged the court for a sentence of around 10 years in jail, and said Ang misses her friend dearly. Citing testimonials from her colleagues and friends, including her partner, he also said Ang's actions were a significant departure from her usual "non-violent and meek" character.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2015, with the headline 'Woman gets 121/2 years for killing 'best friend''. Print Edition | Subscribe