The Toa Payoh ritual murders
The trio comprised Adrian Lim, 46, his wife
Catherine Tan Mui Choo 34,
and mistress Hoe Kah Hong 33. (ages
at time if execution). Click here for photos, from
left to right, Lin, Tan & Hoe.
Adrian Lim was born on the 6th of January 1942, the eldest of three children. He attended the
Catherine Tan Mui
Choo was 24 years old when she met Lim, having been
referred to him by a fellow bar girl. She was the eldest of four children. Like
Lim she was not a great student and as a teenager had been sent to the Catholic
charity Marymount Vocational Centre (then a home for troubled juveniles). Tan
was largely rejected by her parents and suffered from depression. At the time
of their meeting she was grieving the death of her granddad. She loved the attention Lim gave her, even
though he mistreated her, was regularly unfaithful and even prostituted her
Hoe Kah Hong was born on the 10th of September 1955, the third of six children who had lost her father when she was eight years old. Due to financial difficulties she was sent to live with an aunt in Penang in
Lucy Lau sold cosmetics door to door and
visited Lim and Tan’s Toa Payoh apartment in the
October of 1980. Lim obviously fancied
her and tried to persuade her that she was possessed, offering to cure her with
a sex based ritual. Lucy didn’t fall for
this but Lim got his way be mixing a sedative into a glass of milk that he gave
her. Lucy reported the rape to the
police and Lim was charged with it, Tan was charged with aiding and abetting. Both were released on bail. Lim persuaded Hoe to say she had been present
in the apartment and that no rape had taken place.
Lim was a member of a religious cult that worshipped the Hindu Goddess Kali. He believed that sacrificing children to her would bring him good luck and get him off the rape charge. In
The body of Chinese born nine year old Agnes Ng Siew Heok was discovered on the 25th of January 1981 stuffed into a suitcase beside a lift in apartment block 11 at Toa Payoh Lorong 7.
Hoe had met the little girl in churchyard on the 24th of January and persuaded her to come to Lim’s apartment. Once there she was drugged, sexually abused by Lim and then smothered with a pillow. Her blood had been drunk by the three of them and smeared over a picture of Kali.
On the 7th of February 1981 a second body was discovered between blocks 10 and 11 at Toa Payoh. It was that of Malaysian born, ten year old Ghazali bin Marzuki. Again the child had been procured by Hoe and brought to the apartment where he was drowned (in the bath tub), subjected to electric shocks and stabbed. Lim and Hoe had tried to clean up the blood but had done so very inefficiently, allowing the police to follow the trail of blood straight to the doorway of Lim’s apartment in Block 12 of the flats. Lim, Tan and Hoe were inside when the police entered and they found blood stains on the kitchen floor. All three were arrested at the scene and charged two days later with both murders. A full search of the apartment turned up more forensic evidence and various religious artefacts.
Click here for photos. Agnes is on the left, Ghazali is on the right.
A preliminary hearing in the
Deputy Public Prosecutor, Glenn Knight, led the prosecution while Howard Cashin, J. B. Jeyaretnam, and Nathan Isaac defended Lim, Tan and Hoe respectively. Lim’s guilty plea was not accepted by the court. The trial lasted 41 days, the second longest in Singaporean history. Lim refused to cooperate with his defence counsel.
Tan and Hoe both mounted a defence of diminished responsibility by virtue of being under Lim’s total control. Psychiatrists were called by both sides to support and rebut this defence. Cashin also called a psychiatrist, Dr Wong Yip Chong, to testify that Lim was mentally ill.
The trial ended on the 25th of May. Justice Sinnathuray spent just 15 minutes delivering the guilty verdicts. He described Lim as being “abominable and depraved”, Tan as “artful and wicked” and Hoe to be “simple and easily influenced”. Each defendant was then sentenced to death by hanging. Lim smiled and thanked the judge, Tan and Hoe showed little reaction.
Although Lim didn’t appeal, Tan and Hoe
went through the entire appeals process permitted under Singaporean law. Their first stage was the
In Tan’s case “We find that there is evidence that when she lived with (Adrian Lim), there were occasions when she suffered from depression. But, on a balance of probabilities, we find that at the time, when (she) took part in the two murders, she was not suffering from reactive depressive psychosis. That which weighs heavy in our minds is that we had the benefit of hearing and seeing her give evidence in the witness box. The opinion we have of her is that she is an artful and wicked person. In conspiracy with (Adrian Lim), she was at all times a willing party to his loathsome and nefarious acts. We have also considered her case on the footing that she was suffering from mental disease postulated by Dr Nagulendran. Even if she was suffering from abnormality of mind, we find that the abnormality was not such as substantially impaired her mental responsibility for her acts in the two killings.”
In the case of the first appellant (Tan) we are of the opinion that, having regard to all the evidence adduced at the trial, the learned trial judges were entitled to conclude that on a balance of probabilities the plea of diminished responsibility had not been established.
We now turn to consider the case of the
second appellant, Hoe : “In contrast to the first
appellant the second appellant is a simple person who can be easily influenced.
It is claimed that (she) is suffering from schizophrenia. Admittedly, there is
a history of schizophrenia in her family. There is also evidence that she was
Tan and Hoe next appealed to the Privy
On death row in Changi
jail all three were counselled and comforted by Catholic priests and nuns. Father Brian Doro looked after Lim’s
spiritual well being and found him to be a “rather friendly person”. Tan and Hoe were tended by Sister Gerard
Fernandez. According to the Straits
Times newspaper, all three took Holy Communion before their execution and on
the eve of their hangings were allowed to bathe and then have cakes and drinks
of their choice. At 6.00 am. their hands were handcuffed behind their backs and they were
led the few paces to the gallows. Lim
smiled as he went, Tan and Hoe were described as calm and relaxed. Once on the trap doors their legs were
pinioned and black hoods placed over their heads followed by leather covered
British style nooses. Hangman Darshan Singh, as was his custom, told them “he was sending
them to a better place” before he pulled the lever just after 6 am. on Friday the 25th of November 1988. Fr. Doro held a burial service for them and
all three were cremated later in the day.
Only two other women had been hanged in
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