From left to right: Adrian Lim, Tan Mui Choo and Hoe Kah Hong
(PHOTO SOURCE: http://sglinks.com/pages/169682-lens-flashback-toa-payoh-murders)
The Toa Payoh ritual murders took place in Singapore in 1981. On 25 January the body of a nine-year-old girl was found dumped next to the lift of a block of flats in the Toa Payoh district and, two weeks later, a ten-year-old boy was found dead nearby. The children had been killed, purportedly as blood sacrifices to the Hindu goddess Kali. The murders were masterminded by Adrian Lim, a self-styled medium, who had tricked scores of women into believing he had supernatural powers. His victims offered money and sexual services in exchange for cures, beauty, and good fortune. Two of the women became his loyal assistants; Tan Mui Choo married him, and Hoe Kah Hong became one of his "holy wives". When the police investigated a rape charge filed by one of Lim's targets, he became furious and decided to kill children to derail the investigations. On each occasion, Hoe lured a child to Lim's flat where he or she was drugged and killed by the trio. Lim also sexually assaulted the girl before her death. The trio were arrested after the police found a trail of blood that led to their flat. Although the case name suggested ritualistic murders, the defendants said they did not conduct prayers, burning of joss sticks, ringing of bells, or any other rituals during the killings.
The 41-day trial was the second longest to have been held in the courts of Singapore at the time. None of the defendants denied their guilt. Their appointed counsels tried to spare their clients the death sentence by pleading diminished responsibility, arguing that the accused were mentally ill and could not be held entirely responsible for the killings. To support their case they brought in doctors and psychologists, who analysed the defendants and concluded that they had exhibited schizophrenia, and depressions of the psychotic and manic order. The prosecution's expert, however, refuted these testimonies and argued that they were in full control of their mental faculties when they planned and carried out the murders. The judges agreed with the prosecution's case and sentenced the trio to death. While on death row, the women appealed to the Privy Council in London and pleaded for clemency from the President of Singapore to no avail. Lim did not seek any pardons; instead, he accepted his fate and went smiling to the gallows. The three were hanged on 25 November 1988.
The Toa Payoh ritual murders shocked the public in Singapore, who were surprised by such an act taking place in their society. Reports of the trio's deeds and the court proceedings were closely followed and remained prominent in the Singaporean consciousness for several years. Twice, movie companies tried to capitalise on the sensation generated by the murders by producing motion pictures based on the killings; however, critics panned both films for indulging in gratuitous sex and violence, and the movies performed poorly at the box office. The actions and behaviour of the three killers were studied by academics in the criminal psychology field, and the rulings set by the courts became local case studies for diminished responsibility.
Whoever says Singapore is boring and antiseptic ignores our hard-to-surpass crime spine tinglers starring inimitable rogues such as ... the very incarnation of Evil — Adrian Lim ...- Sonny Yap, The Straits Times, 15 July 1995
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