When his girlfriend attacked him in a “drug-fueled frenzy”, Jackson Lim Hou Peng feared that the ruckus would cause the neighbours to call the police, and the couple, both on drugs, would be found out.
Lim, 41, hit his Vietnamese girlfriend Tran Cam Ny, 32, in an attempt to stop her from screaming. Tran also physically and verbally abused Lim, accusing him of passing on money she had given him to other women.
When that did not work, he took a blanket and pressed it over her mouth with both hands. Tran, a KTV hostess, appeared to calm down and Lim removed the blanket, only for her to start screaming again.
Lim pressed the blanket over Tran’s face once more, this time smothering her to death. After trying to call a friend and his father for help, Lim eventually called an ambulance, and performed CPR on Tran with guidance from an SCDF call operator while waiting.
Tran was pronounced dead in the couple’s Ang Mo Kio flat on Nov 20, 2014. An autopsy revealed she had consumed drugs prior to her death.
Lim pleaded guilty to culpable homicide not amounting to murder on Monday (Mar 14), for which he was sentenced to 4.5 years’ jail. The odd-job labourer also pleaded guilty to one count of drug consumption. A urine sample taken from Lim after his arrest showed that he had consumed methamphetamine, or ice.
Lim was sentenced to five years’ jail and three strokes of the cane for the drug consumption charge, making an overall jail term of 9.5 years and three strokes of the cane.
The prosecution sought an 11-year jail term with three strokes of the cane for Lim, rejecting the claim that Tran had provoked Lim into killing her. Tran had suffered “extensive bruising”, as opposed to the “minor injuries” suffered by Lim. Tran had also been a petite woman, and Lim should not have resorted to violence to subdue her, Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao said.
Lim’s lawyer Jennifer Lim said her client “loved Tran dearly” and never intended to kill her. “(Lim) was not the aggressor”, Ms Lim said, adding that Tran, high on drugs, behaved in a “violent and erratic manner” that night, and had wrongly accused Lim of seeing other women.
Ms Lim also revealed that Lim and Tran, who had been in a relationship for about a year, had planned to get married. This was a “tale of a love story gone wrong”, the lawyer said. Lim had acted “on the spur of the moment”, afraid that the police would be called if Tran’s screams alarmed their neighbours. Lim feared that the couple’s arrest would spell the end of their marriage plans, Ms Lim said.
The lawyer conceded that Lim’s consumption of ice had “put him in a situation where he was not fully in control of his actions or judgement”, and had ultimately resulted in Tran’s death.
In sentencing Lim, Justice Tay Yong Kwang said: “(This case) demonstrates how taking illegal drugs can sometimes lead to very sad and fatal consequences which were never intended.”
For culpable homicide not amounting to murder, Lim could have faced up to 10 years in jail with caning.
For consuming ice, Lim, who has previous convictions for consuming and trafficking the drug, could have been jailed up to seven years with six strokes of the cane.