Singapore

Cafeteria worker accused of murder: I 'only wanted to scare’ nurse, not kill her

Cafeteria worker, on trial for murdering nurse, says he thought of her as girlfriend and putting a towel around her neck was 'natural'

He called her Princess Xiang Xiang, while her nickname for him was God of Food, because he loved eating.

He had never asked her to be his girlfriend, felt too "embarrassed" to hold her hand or kiss her and his marriage proposal was met with silence.

But cafeteria worker Boh Soon Ho, 51, considered 28-year-old Zhang Huaxiang to be his girlfriend because the nurse fed him popcorn at the movies and sought his opinion when he went with her to shop for clothes and undergarments.

When asked why he kept paying for her purchases, he replied: "Because as a man, I should be more generous."

Boh took the stand for the first time yesterday in his trial for murdering the Chinese national.

He has admitted that he strangled her in a jealous rage in his rented bedroom in Circuit Road on March 21, 2016, after she told him about her relationships with other men, and then tried to have sex with her corpse.

Testifying through a Mandarin interpreter, Boh said putting a towel around her neck and crossing the ends "was a very natural thing to do" as he felt angry and hurt by her revelations.

As his lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam took him through the sequence of events, Boh's constant refrain was: "I didn't think too much. It was a moment of impulse. I had no intention to kill her. I only wanted to scare her. I did not expect things to turn out this way."

At one point, Boh said: "I did not expect the towel to kill her."

When Mr Thuraisingam asked how he felt as he was pulling the towel around the victim's neck, he replied: "I did so many things for her, I didn't expect her to treat me this way."

UPSET

Boh added: "For many years, I bought her things and gave her money to gamble. Two men suddenly came into the picture, and at that moment, I could not accept it."

Boh and Ms Zhang got to know each other in 2011 or 2012, while they were working together at a cafeteria. He regarded her as his girlfriend and paid when they went out for meals, shopping and gambling.

Boh said he held her hand only once, in Chinatown during Chinese New Year as it was crowded.

In 2016, he suspected she was seeing someone else and spied on her. On March 18, he saw her getting into a taxi with a man.

"My mind was in a mess."

He invited her to his place on March 21. She asked him for $1,000 to gamble, he said.

She called him "useless" when he told her he did not have so much money, said Boh.

Boh said he asked for sex and kissed and touched her, but she told him he was crazy.

Later, he asked her about the man he had seen with her. She told Boh she had gone out with him several times.

Ms Zhang also revealed her former boyfriend had come to visit her from China and it was normal for them to be intimate.

Boh understood "being intimate" to mean they had sex and began sweating and shaking in anger. He took a towel to wipe his sweat and claimed that, in a moment of impulse, he strangled her with it.

He said after he fled to his hometown Melaka, he tried to kill himself by jumping into a river but backed out as it was smelly.

COURT & CRIME