The Straits Times/Asia News Network
A man who strangled a 28-year-old nurse in a jealous rage and tried to have sex with her corpse told police after his arrest that he spent money on her for years but ended up with "nothing", the High Court heard on Thursday (Sept 19).
Boh Soon Ho, 51, is on trial for murdering Chinese national Zhang Huaxiang at his rented Circuit Road bedroom on March 21,2016, after she rejected his sexual advances and told him about her relationships with other men.
The Malaysian cafeteria worker considered Zhang, a former colleague, to be his girlfriend as they went shopping and had meals together, even though they had never been physically intimate.
He admitted in police statements that on the day he killed her, he became angry on hearing she was going out with another man and was still in contact with her former boyfriend in China with whom she had been physically intimate.
Boh said that as these thoughts were running in his mind, he took a blue towel hanging on the door, walked to the mirror and contemplated for a while.
"I told myself if I were to strangle Huaxiang, it would be the end of me," he said.
Boh said he then walked behind her, coiled the towel around her neck and strangled her while he looked away.
On Thursday, asked for his opinion on Boh's account to the police, Institute of Mental Health (IMH) forensic psychiatrist Stephen Phang said the accused was in a "cool, deliberate, contemplative" state of mind before he strangled the victim.
"He was considering options and exercising judgment," said Dr Phang, testifying on the second day of the trial.
Dr Phang, who interviewed Boh and others who knew him, said the accused was not suffering from any mental disorder or mental illness.
In the immediate aftermath of the killing, he was able to make plans to flee to his home town of Melaka, to phone his landlord to ascertain that he would not be coming to the flat that night, and to go out to buy a suitcase and to collect his salary.
Boh had described to the psychiatrist in graphic detail the acts he carried out on Ms Zhang after strangling her, saying he felt curious because he had never seen her body before.
"His self-confessed sexualised acts with the deceased's body are clearly indicative that he was purposeful in his pursuits for personal pleasure," Dr Phang said in his report to the court.
Boh repeatedly maintained to Dr Phang that he had acted in a moment of impulse and anger. "In layman's terms, he got angry, he lost his temper at that moment," the psychiatrist said.
Dr Phang said anger was a normal human reaction in the light of Zhang's revelations to Boh, against the backdrop of his assumption that she was his girlfriend.
Boh had also admitted lying to his landlord that he was married with two children because he was embarrassed to be single in his 40s. He was 47 at the time of the killing.
Justice Pang Khang Chau, noting that there seemed to be a consensus that Boh had been "mistaken" about the status of his relationship with Zhang, asked if this could mean he was delusional.
Dr Phang replied that there was no clinical basis for such a finding.
The trial continues.