Man sentenced to death for killing pregnant wife, four-year-old daughter

SINGAPORE (CNA) – A Singaporean man was sentenced to death yesterday for murdering his pregnant wife and four-year-old daughter in their flat three years ago.

The judge called it a “tragic case” of lives lost and “a family torn asunder”.

Teo Ghim Heng, 45, was convicted of two counts of murder for killing his wife, Choong Pei Shan, who was six months pregnant, before doing the same to their daughter.

He strangled his 39-year-old wife with a towel after quarrelling with her about finances. She purportedly insulted him in front of their daughter, calling him a useless father and husband, and he strangled her with a towel before using his hands to finish the job.

The girl was in the room playing and watching television while this went on. After killing his wife, Teo decided to kill his daughter and himself to “reunite the family” in death.

The girl cried as she was strangled, and Teo placed the two bodies on a bed and slept beside them for seven days.

He tried to kill himself repeatedly but failed, eventually setting fire to the bodies and tried lying next to them but “chickened out” because of the heat.

They were found on the first day of Chinese New Year in 2017, when Teo’s brother-in-law came knocking at the door and detected an acrid smell coming from the window slats.

He had gone to look for his sister after she did not turn up for their usual Chinese New Year festivities and did not respond to phone calls and messages.

When Teo finally opened the door to a group of police and Singapore Civil Defence Force officers, he appeared “shocked”, before going close to his brother-in-law’s face to tell him that his sister was dead.

Teo’s motive for the killings was not disputed by both sides – he was previously a top property agent earning about SGD20,000 a month, before the industry shifted and he faced financial difficulties, struggling to pay the bills as an employee at a renovation firm.

He also racked up gambling debts, credit card bills and school fees for his daughter’s school, which he was unable to pay and kept putting off.

The money issues led to frequent quarrels with his wife, and Teo started to suspect that his daughter was not his after finding his wife with another man in the master bedroom in October 2014.