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Retrial for businessman over assault on love rival

Retrial for businessman over assault on love rival

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 17 Feb 2021
Author: Selina Lum

High Court Judge rejected defence arguments and said a retrial would be "the most just outcome in the circumstances" and in line with past Court of Appeal decisions.

The High Court yesterday ordered a retrial for businessman Lim Hong Liang, who had been sentenced in a lower court in 2019 to six years' jail for masterminding an attack on his mistress' boyfriend.

The decision centred on a police statement that had been withheld by prosecutors during Lim's district court trial in 2018.

The statement was made by a person who was not called to testify, but had the potential to undermine the testimony of a key witness - Lim's nephew Ron Lim - who had implicated the accused.

Justice Aedit Abdullah rejected defence arguments that the non-disclosure by the prosecution should lead to an acquittal in this case.

Instead, the judge said a retrial would be "the most just outcome in the circumstances" and in line with past Court of Appeal decisions.

Justice Aedit said apart from the prosecution's breach of its disclosure obligations, there were other concerns about Ron Lim's testimony. "What must be done is to have an assessment of Ron Lim's credibility in the light of the statement, and conclusions reached on whether there is sufficient evidence to convict," he said.

Lim, 57, was sentenced to six years' jail in 2019 after a district judge found he had paid a middleman, Ong Hock Chye, to recruit thugs to attack Mr Joshua Koh Kian Yong, 36.

Mr Koh was dating Lim's mistress, Ms Audrey Chen Ying Fang.

Lim, a married man with three children, provided for Ms Chen financially from late 2014 till May 2017. She won the inaugural Miss Mermaid pageant in 2016.

On April 8, 2016, Ron Lim beat up Mr Koh, fracturing his nose.

On April 30, Mr Koh's face was slashed with a penknife in an attack by hired thugs.

Ron Lim, who was sentenced in 2018 to three years' jail and four strokes of the cane, said that after the first assault, his uncle called him to look for someone to break Mr Koh's limbs because the victim was still seeing Ms Chen.

Ron Lim said he was at Ong's flat when his uncle called him. He said Ong took over the phone from him and told Lim that he knew people who could do the job.

Ron Lim said someone named Edwin Cheong was there and could corroborate his testimony.

Ong, however, said he did not speak to Lim.

During the trial, the defence asked for Mr Cheong's statement.

The district judge took the view that the statement was likely to incriminate Lim and declined to order the prosecution to produce it.

At Lim's appeal against conviction before Justice Aedit last year, the statement again became an issue.

Prosecutors resisted producing the statement, arguing that it was not favourable to Lim.

In other words, the prosecution argued that the statement did not meet the criteria for disclosure set out by the Court of Appeal in 2011.

The apex court had ruled then that the prosecution had a duty to disclose relevant material that is not favourable to its case.

Before Justice Aedit gave his decision, the apex court issued a judgment which expanded on the duty of disclosure.

It said it did not matter whether the statement was favourable, neutral or adverse to the accused person.

The prosecution then conceded that Mr Cheong's statement should have been disclosed.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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