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The Straits Times
23 February 2017
Five years ago, a 24-year-old administrative officer, engaged to be married to a 37-year-old security guard she met on a social networking site, died at the hands of the man she was due to wed, the High Court heard on Thursday (Feb 23).
Ms Elsie Lie Lek Chee's fiance, Gabriel Lee Haw Ling, believed she was possessed by spirits. He had taken her to a Catholic church for exorcism and made her carry a Bible in a bulky waist pouch, which she wore even at work.
In their rented room between about 11.40pm on March 30, 2012 and about 6.50am the next day, Lee tried to decapitate her with an assortment of tools, including pruning shears, scissors, a rotary can opener and a hammer. He also cut her right foot.
After she was dead, Lee gouged out her eyes and threw them out of the window of their room, while a paramedic - who had arrived at the flat after another tenant called for help - was in the living room.
On Thursday, Lee, now 42, was jailed 10 years after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide. He was originally charged with murder but the charge was reduced as a psychiatric report found that he had a brief psychotic disorder.
After the sentence was passed, the victim's mother, Madam Chen Yoke Mooi, 54, was inconsolable.
"My daughter died so horribly... 10 years for a life, it's too much, it's not fair," she told reporters in Mandarin as she wiped away her tears.
The court heard that Lee and Ms Lie started living together in June 2011, two months after they met online. Lee was then undergoing divorce proceedings with his wife.
After December 2011, Lee began to believe that the room they sub-let was haunted and that his fiancee was possessed.
At about 6pm on March 30, 2012, Lee gave her a shower in the kitchen bathroom. Another housemate heard Lee groaning and snippets of loud conversation between the couple. When he returned at 8.45pm, the couple were still in the bathroom.
At some point, a domestic helper from the flat upstairs heard a male voice shouting: "Go back! Go back to the sky!"
When the couple finally emerged from the bathroom, their housemates observed Ms Lie looked pale and was supported by Lee.
The couple returned to their room and loud groaning noises could be heard until 11.08pm, at which point the main tenant called the police to report a dispute in the flat.
Two police officers arrived at about 11.17pm, and knocked on the couple's room door. Lee opened the door and told the officers he had quarrelled with Ms Lie.
The officers noticed that Ms Lie was lying on a mattress on the floor and appeared weak but there were no physical injuries. She told the officers she was weak from a recent abortion.
The two officers left at about 11.40pm after telling the couple to keep the peace.
As the night passed, the other flat occupants continued to hear groaning, wailing, whining and shouting from Lee.
At about 6.30am, the housemate noticed blood on the door of the couple's room and notified the main tenant, who called the police at about 6.40am.
A paramedic who arrived 10 minutes later saw Ms Lie, who was topless and covered in blood, lying on top of Lee, who was naked, on the mattress. While the paramedic waited for the police to arrive as he had assessed that the situation was unsafe, Lee gouged out Ms Lie's eyes.
At about 6.55am, the same two police officers arrived at the flat. They saw Lee kneeling next to the body of his fiancee, groaning and chanting while holding a yellow object that resembled a cross.
Lee ignored the officers and continued chanting. He was arrested shortly after.
A few bent metal spoons and a fork were found entwined in Ms Lie's hair. A pair of pruning shears, a hammer, a rotary can opener, and two pairs of scissors were also found beside her.
Her eyeballs and clumps of hair were recovered at the foot of the block.
An autopsy found multiple injuries to her head, neck and limbs, including a gaping 12cm wound across her neck that cut her spinal cord.