Woman in hospital spat accused of stealing

Woman in hospital spat accused of stealing
Lee Lian Huay (top left), the wife of businessman Ong Wee Chuan (right), is accused of stealing eight items worth $4,695 in total from Madam Koh Li Ching (bottom left), who claimed to be a close friend of Mr Ong.

SINGAPORE - The wife of a businessman went to visit him in hospital, but things turned ugly when she saw another woman there.

According to one account, dim sum was spilled, voices were raised and the contents of a blue Furla bag were snatched.

And now this has sparked a two-day trial, with the wife, Lee Lian Huay, 44, accused of stealing from the woman, Madam Koh Li Ching, 48.

Lee, who runs investment firm Golden Hung Ho Holdings with husband Ong Wee Chuan, 48, allegedly took eight items worth $4,695 in total from the bag of Madam Koh, who claimed to be a friend of Mr Ong.

These included an iPhone valued at $1,200, a Louis Vuitton wallet valued at $995, a Hublot watch of unknown value and $2,500 in cash.

The women met each other for the first time last Sept 2, when they visited Mr Ong at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital at night, the court heard yesterday.

Madam Koh, who runs an employment agency, told the court that she went to visit Mr Ong with some dim sum for him.

Lee showed up at around the same time. Madam Koh then proceeded to leave and took the dim sum with her.

But Lee snatched the food from her and stepped on it after it dropped on the floor, said Madam Koh.

A wry smile appeared on Lee's face in court when she heard Madam Koh relate this part of the incident.

Madam Koh said she picked up the food from the floor and tried to leave the room again.

But this time, Lee allegedly snatched Madam Koh's handbag, unzipped it and took out her wallet and mobile phone. She also snatched her watch, Madam Koh told the court.

Madam Koh who is divorced with three children, made a police report after she claimed that Lee refused to return the items to her.

Yesterday, eight prosecution witnesses took the stand in the case, which seemed to revolve around the relationship between Madam Koh and Mr Ong.

Both Madam Koh and Mr Ong, who were also prosecution witnesses, were repeatedly questioned by the prosecutor and defence lawyers about their relationship.

While both denied having an affair and said they are "just friends", evidence in court seemed to suggest otherwise.

During cross-examination by defence lawyer Chia Boon Teck, Madam Koh at first denied having gone on any holiday with Mr Ong as they were "just friends".

But when Mr Chia showed the court a photograph of Madam Koh leaning on Mr Ong, taken in Chengdu, she admitted that they had travelled together in a group.

Madam Koh also revealed that Lee previously sent her messages calling her a prostitute and "her husband's new toy".

Mr Ong said in his police statement that he had been "having an affair for a long time". Hence, he believed his wife knew Madam Koh, the court heard.

But on the witness stand yesterday, Mr Ong said he did not know why the word "affair" appeared in his statement when he told police he had a business relationship with Madam Koh.

He also told the court that he gave Madam Koh $5,000 after the incident. He said that part of the money was for commission earned by Madam Koh, who had helped him in his metal business.

"Part of it was because of the quarrel. It's like a consolation prize to her," said Mr Ong.

During re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenny Yang, Mr Ong said it was not unusual for him to give Madam Koh money as "she has been helping in my work, pleasing me, saying things that are soothing to me".

"Women just want money. She will be happy after getting the money," he told the court.

DPP Yang applied to impeach Mr Ong as a witness, as he has not been consistent in his statement. The trial continues today.

joycel@sph.com.sg

This article was published on May 6 in The Straits Times.

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