Woman tells court: My husband's 'mistress' set me up

A businesswoman accused of stealing from a woman she believed to be her husband's mistress, has accused the woman of setting her up so that she can be with him.

Yesterday, Lee Lian Huay, 44, took the stand and denied taking any item from complainant Koh Li Ching when they ran into each other while visiting Lee's husband in hospital.

"She's attempting to set me up, so that I will end up in jail and she can be with my husband. I can't possibly plead guilty and let them have their way," said Lee, who runs investment firm Golden Hung Ho Holdings with her husband, Mr Ong Wee Chuan, 48.

Yesterday, Lee testified in court that the prosecution had told her she would be given only a warning if she pleaded guilty to theft. But she said she would not do so "because of my dignity".

"I want to come to court to give my explanation and prove my innocence," she said.

Lee had been charged with one count of theft for allegedly taking eight items worth $4,695 in total from the handbag of Madam Koh, an employment agency owner.

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.

Madam Koh, 48, a divorcee with three grown-up children, had denied having an "adulterous relationship" with Mr Ong, but evidence produced in court seemed to suggest otherwise.

The alleged theft took place on Sept 2 last year when the two women met for the first time while visiting Mr Ong at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, where he was warded after an operation.

Dim sum was spilled and the two women got into a scuffle.

Madam Koh jabbed her finger at Lee, while Mr Ong threw his drip stand in the direction of his wife, apparently in a bid to separate them, the court heard.

Lee said she avoided being hit by the stand only because her son lent a hand in time.

During the spat, Mr Ong told his wife: "Let's divorce." She said she would do so only if he gives her $2 million.

Mr Ong later told the police his wife had taken the items and refused to return them.

But on Monday, Mr Ong, a prosecution witness, retracted his statement and said he did not see his wife stealing Madam Koh's belongings. He said he had given the statement, which implicated his wife of 21 years, "in a fit of anger".

"The two of them were taking the opportunity to quarrel in my presence. I am very angry with these two women for not respecting me," said Mr Ong, who revealed he has been giving money to Madam Koh regularly as "she has been helping in my work... saying things that are soothing to me".

Yesterday, the couple's 16-year-old son and Lee's sister also turned up in court to give their testimonies.

In his closing submissions yesterday, defence lawyer Chia Boon Teck called Madam Koh an unreliable witness as "she tried to give this court the impression that she was just an ordinary friend and the accused came over to snatch her belongings - when in fact, they were fighting over Mr Ong and Madam Koh took opportunity to frame the accused".

He also pointed out inconsistencies in Madam Koh's statement.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenny Yang, however, said Lee had taken Madam Koh's belongings in a fit of anger after seeing her husband and his mistress together for the first time.

The judge's decision will be heard on June 3.

This article was published on May 7 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.