Jurong murder accused ‘had money woes’

The Straits Times
Date 19 Feb 2014

Two girlfriends of married man tell court they gave him money and jewellery

FACING financial difficulties three years ago, then prison officer Lim Wee Thong contacted one of his girlfriends, who had recently received $115,000 for the en-bloc sale of her HDB flat.

He stabbed her to death with a vegetable knife, then withdrew $14,500 from her bank accounts in the days that followed.

This is the prosecution’s version of events surrounding the death of clerk Loh Nyuk Moi, 50, in the Taman Jurong flat sometime between Feb 13 and 16, 2011.

Lim is accused of intentionally causing her death, and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Yesterday, his 16-day murder trial began in the High Court.

The prosecution’s case is that Lim owed substantial sums to credit card companies, unlicensed money-lenders and other creditors.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Shahla Iqbal and Puspha S. tried to highlight his financial difficulties during 2 1/2 hours of questioning of two of Lim’s girlfriends, focusing on his reliance on them for financial help.

The first girlfriend, cleaner Choo Mui Gek, had helped Lim buy the alleged murder weapon while they were shopping for groceries two months before the incident. The married woman, in her late 30s, said in a statement that Lim, whom she grew close to in 2010, appeared to have trouble with money and would ask her for help.

On several occasions, he would cry and threaten to commit suicide if she refused to help, the court heard.

She passed him small sums of money on several occasions – as well as three gold bracelets and a Rolex watch worth almost $4,000 in all, which he then pawned.

Cross-examining Ms Choo, Lim’s lawyer A. Sangeetha suggested Lim had returned money to her on some occasions. But Ms Choo disagreed, saying: “He has not paid me back any of the money.”

The other girlfriend, factory worker Koek Siew Huang, in her 40s, said that in addition to money, she had passed the accused a gold bracelet and ring to help pay his car loans. The two first met in 2010 but she eventually distanced herself because he kept asking to borrow money from her.

Under cross-examination, Ms Koek said she found Lim to be stressed in general, and had helped him because of their relationship.

Lim, who was married with a son at the time of his alleged offence, kept his head down throughout yesterday’s session and did not look at either of the women. He had apparently been seeing them at the same time.

Ms Loh was found dead in the flat in Yung Ping Road on the morning of Feb 16, 2011. The flat had been sold back to the HDB the previous November under its selective en-bloc redevelopment scheme, for $123,600, and she had moved to another flat in the same area with her father.

Three days earlier, prosecutors said, she had engaged a locksmith to open the door of the empty flat, where she later met Lim. She had also cancelled plans to attend a Chinese New Year celebration that day and had been in contact with the accused before meeting him, the court heard.

Two police officers who visited the scene of the alleged crime also took the stand yesterday, out of a witness list of 99.

Lim is being represented by defence lawyers Anand Nalachandran, Josephus Tan and A. Sangeetha. The trial before Judicial Commissioner Tan Siong Thye continues today.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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