Adrian Lim murders



In the early 1980s, the murders of two young children, Agnes Ng Siew Heok and Ghazali bin Marzuki, led to investigations that resulted in the capture of one of Singapore’s most notorious murderers: Adrian Lim, his wife Catherine Tan Mui Choo, and his mistress Hoe Kah Hong. The trial turned out to be the second-longest murder trial in Singapore at the time, lasting for about two months,1 during which disturbing accounts of rites and rituals were unveiled. The trio were ultimately sentenced to death and were hanged on 25 November 1988.

Background
The bodies of Ng and Ghazali were found on 25 January 1981 and 7 February 1981, respectively, in similar locations at Toa Payoh Lorong 7.2 Nine-year-old Ng, the youngest of nine children, was a student who attended the Holy Innocents Chinese Girls’ School. She was last seen at the Church of Risen Christ in Toa Payoh, and her body was found in a bag at Block 11, Toa Payoh Lorong 7.3 She appeared to have died from suffocation, and there were also indications that she was sodomised and sexually abused.4


Ghazali was a 10-year-old schoolboy from Henry Park Primary School who had been playing in a playground with his cousins in Clementi when a lady (Hoe) approached them to request for help. Ghazali was then taken to Lim’s flat in Toa Payoh in a taxi. He was found dead between Blocks 10 and 11 in Toa Payoh. Post-mortem autopsy revealed that he had been drowned, although signs of asphyxia were also present. There were also three burn marks on his back and a puncture on his arm.5

Description
A bloody trail near Ghazali’s body led police investigators to a flat in Block 12, Toa Payoh Lorong 7, which was occupied by Lim, Tan and Hoe. The flat contained various religious items, including pictures of Jesus Christ, as well as Hindu and Chinese idols, some of which were smeared with blood. Noticing a blood stain on the kitchen floor, the three were taken in for questioning by the police.6

Lim was then an unemployed 39-year-old who professed to be a medium with powers to cure people’s ailments. He would go into trances, often adopting different voices and speaking in a different language. He also performed tricks, and had convinced many of his clients to sleep with him, on the pretext of “cleansing” the evil in them, or through harnessing their fears and insecurities to his advantage.7

Born on 6 January 1942, Lim was the eldest of three children, and attended Anglo-Chinese School, only to drop out after Secondary One. He started work as an Internal Security Department informer for a few months, and then was with the Rediffusion radio broadcasting company for 14 years, working as a wireman and a bill collector.8 He had two children from his first marriage.9 During the trial, Lim claimed that he had taken lessons from a man known as Uncle Willie, who had “special powers”.10

Lim met Tan in 1974, when she was introduced to him for “treatment” by her friends at the bar where she was working.11 Lim subsequently persuaded Tan  to become a prostitute to support him financially. After his divorce with his first wife, Lim married Tan in 1977,12 but continued to take on other “holy wives” in the years that followed.13

Tan was 26 years old at the time of trial,14 and the eldest of four children. She attended a few schools, such as the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus and Macpherson Secondary School, and was also sent to the Marymount Vocational Centre.15 Generally depressive by nature, she was taken in by the attention that Lim gave her, and stayed with him despite his ill-treatment and infidelities.16

Hoe’s mother brought her to Lim’s flat in 1979. Her sister, Lai Ho had been receiving “treatments” from Lim.17 Hoe, who was 25 years old at the time of trial,18 was working as a factory worker for Hewlett Packard at the time of her arrest.19 Convinced of Lim’s “powers”, Hoe was instrumental in bringing the children to Lim. Both Lim and Tan underwent electric shocks administered by Lim.20 Lim convinced Hoe that her husband, Loh Ngak Hua, had cast evil spells on her. Loh was subsequently killed during one of the electrocution sessions on 7 January 1980, but his death was judged to be an accident, given the testimony by Hoe that her husband was electrocuted while trying to switch on a faulty fan.21

Trial
The murders of Ng and Ghazali opened a complex case involving rituals of human sacrifice, consumption of human blood, and sexual perversion. During the days of the trial, crowds gathered outside the courts, and the proceedings were closely monitored and reported by the media.22

Glenn Knight was the deputy public prosecutor, while H. E. Cashin, J. B. Jeyaretnam and Nathan Isaac were the three defence counsels assigned by the High Court to defend Lim, Tan and Hoe respectively. The case was heard before Justice T. S. Sinnathuray and Justice F. A. Chua,23 and a team of witnesses, including psychiatrists who had observed the accused as well as other clients of Lim’s,24 were called to the stand. On 25 May 1983, the three accused were sentenced to death.25 While Lim accepted the verdict, both Tan and Hoe appealed on grounds of mental illness. Tan was represented by Francis Seow, and Hoe by Nathan Isaac again. In August 1986, their appeal was dismissed by Chief Justice Wee Chong Jin, Justice Lai Kew Chai and Justice L. P. Thean.26 Further appeals to the Privy Council of London did not succeed, and clemency from President Wee Kim Wee was also rejected.27

On 25 November 1988, Lim, Tan and Hoe were hanged at Changi Prison and their bodies cremated at the Mount Vernon Crematorium28 following a church service at the Church of the Holy Family in Katong.29



Author

Rajendra Munoo



References

1. All three to hang. (1983, May 28). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Sidhu, K. S. (1981, February 8). Cops find body of battered boy. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Chua, M., & Davidson, B. (1983, April 7). We tested their blood before killing them… The Straits Times, p. 12; Sidhu, K. S. (1981, January 27). Bid to hunt down suitcase killer. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. The Toa Payoh child murder trial starts. (1983, March 29). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Sidhu, K. S. (1981, February 8). Cops find body of battered boy. The Straits Times, p. 1; Davidson, B., Chua, M., & Lee, P. (1983, March 29). Bloodstained idols found in flat, packed Court told. The Straits Times, p. 10; Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, April 5). I killed to get even with the world, says Adrian. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Sidhu, K. S. (1981, February 8). Cops find body of battered boy. The Straits Times, p. 1; Davidson, B., Chua, M., & Lee, P. (1983, March 29). Bloodstained idols found in flat, packed Court told. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Chong, E. (1981, September 17). Man: I’m guilty of Toa Payoh murders. The Straits Times, p. 1; I preyed on my victims’ superstitions. (1983, April 7). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. John, A. (2016). Unholy trinity: The Adrian Lim ‘ritual’ child killings. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 27. (Call no.: RSING 364.1523095957 JOH)
9. Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, March 30). Welder: I saw Tan carrying Ghazali. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Spirits and tricks from Uncle Willie. (1983, April 16). The Straits Times, p. 13 Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. John, A. (2016). Unholy trinity: The Adrian Lim ‘ritual’ child killings. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 36, 44. (Call no.: RSING 364.1523095957 JOH)
12. John, A. (2016). Unholy trinity: The Adrian Lim ‘ritual’ child killings. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 40, 50. (Call no.: RSING 364.1523095957 JOH)
13. Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, April 27). I was totally under Adrian’s influence, accused tells court. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. 3 murder accused for a month’s check in hospital. (1981, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. John, A. (2016). Unholy trinity: The Adrian Lim ‘ritual’ child killings. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 41–42. (Call no.: RSING 364.1523095957 JOH)
16. Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, April 27). I was totally under Adrian’s influence, accused tells court. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. John, A. (2016). Unholy trinity: The Adrian Lim ‘ritual’ child killings. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 56. (Call no.: RSING 364.1523095957 JOH)
18. 3 murder accused for a month’s check in hospital. (1981, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, May 5). Hoe talks about her first visit to Adrian’s flat. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Chua, M. (1983, April 7). We tested their blood before killing them… The Straits Times, p. 12; Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, April 27). I was totally under Adrian’s influence, accused tells court. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Chua, M. (1983, April 7). We tested their blood before killing them… The Straits Times, p. 12; Blood drinks at death flat. (1983, April 9). The Straits Times, p. 10; I preyed on my victims’ superstitions. (1983, April 7). The Straits Times, p. 13; Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, May 26). We are revulsed by Lim’s conduct: Judge. The Straits Times, p. 9; Oei, S. G. (1984, October 28). Adrian Lim: $70,000 is Christina’s. Singapore Monitor, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. 3 murder accused for a month’s check in hospital. (1981, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 17; Lee, P. (1983, April 10). Chamber of horrors. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, March 31). I stumbled onto Adrian’s flat, says inspector. The Straits Times, p. 12; Gretchen, M., Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, May 26). Guilty! Death for all three. The Straits Times, p. 1; Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, May 26). We are revulsed by Lim’s conduct: Judge. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, March 30). Welder: I saw Tan carrying Ghazali. The Straits Times, p. 9; Davidson, B., Chua, M., & Lee, P. (1983, March 29). Bloodstained idols found in flat, packed court told. (1983, March 29). The Straits Times, p. 10; Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, April 8). I gave Adrian $100,000, says ex-dance hostess. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Gretchen, M., Davidson, B., & Chua, M. (1983, May 26). Guilty! Death for all three. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Chong, E. (1985, November 19). Court erred on Tan’s state of health, says counsel. The Straits Times, p. 11; Davidson, B. (1986, August 5). Adrian Lim’s wife, girlfriend lose appeal. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Pereira, B. (1988, November 26). Cult murder Adrian Lim, wife and mistress hanged. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Pereira, B. (1988, November 26). Cult murder Adrian Lim, wife and mistress hanged. (1988, November 26). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. John, A. (2016). Unholy trinity: The Adrian Lim ‘ritual’ child killings. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 239. (Call no.: RSING 364.1523095957 JOH)



Further resources
Kutty, N. G. (1989). Adrian Lim’s beastly killings. Singapore: Aequitas Management Consultants.

(Call no.: RCLOS 364.1523095957 KUT)

Sit, Y. F. (1989). I confess. Singapore: Heinemann Asia.
(Call no.: RSING 364.1523095957 SIT)

Sit, Y. F. (1989). Was Adrian Lim mad? Singapore: Heinemann Asia.
(Call no.: RSING 345.5957067 SIT)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Singapore--History--1965-1990
Hanging--Singapore
Politics and Government>>Law
Law
Crime--Singapore
Murder--Singapore
People and communities>>Social problems>>Crimes and delinquency