'I cannot explain': Singaporean accused of killing wife in UK says he does not remember doing it

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND – The 51-year-old Singaporean man accused of smothering his wife to death with a pillow accepts that he carried out the act but cannot remember doing it, a jury heard on Monday (Aug 8).

Fong Soong Hert told Newcastle Crown Court that he has no recollection of the incident at County Aparthotel in Newcastle, in the early hours of Dec 6 last year.

“I don’t remember, I really want to, I cannot explain,” he said, later adding: “I’m really desperate to understand what happened and what went wrong.”

While giving his evidence on day four of the murder trial before Judge Paul Sloan QC, Fong said he had been in significant pain after a fall down a steep slope in Scotland days earlier. He described feeling like “a walking corpse”, adding: “I felt like my whole body is in pain, my bones will shatter, my head will explode with pain.”

Fong said he was taking several medications to help manage severe discomfort.

He also had prescription medications for anxiety, depression and to help him sleep.

Junior defence counsel Steven Reed led the questioning by asking the defendant about his relationship with his wife of 28 years, Madam Pek Ying Ling, 51. Fong responded that it was “wonderful – we were so happy”, adding that his marriage was “never” a cause of stress.

When asked if they ever argued, he said: “Definitely, yes, life is full of ups and downs and challenges. We have disagreements, we have arguments, bickerings.” But the arguments were never physical, he noted.

The defendant added the bickering often came from his wife’s side, when “she wants my attention to get some things done, when I feel it’s not so urgent”.

See also  PM Lee takes Covid-19 vaccine publicly to show Singaporeans it's safe

Fong told the jury that he was usually the calmer one and often stepped away if things got heated. He added that he was not angry or resentful of his wife for the bickering.

Reed explained to the court that the couple’s holiday took them first to Dubai, Croatia, then Scotland, where they planned to spend a few days, before visiting Newcastle. While in the Isle of Skye, Fong had a fall, which he recalled to the court: “I slipped or tripped on something while I was trying to take a picture. I went tumbling, rolling, free drop.”

He ended up against a shed, but does not remember any other detail. Following the fall, he had pain in his arms, knees, legs, the lower back and spine area, and headaches. At a local hospital where he was given pain medication, he recalls a doctor saying that he was “very, very fortunate” that he had not suffered fatal injuries.

Fong explained that the medication only worked temporarily – he could not sit, lie or stand for long and was having bad headaches. He said that his wife took responsibility for his medication and was helping him to take it. “She looks after me very well”, he told the court.


Fong was referred to a hospital in Inverness but was not given any further treatment, following which the couple travelled to Edinburgh.

Still in a lot of pain, Fong went by train with his wife to Newcastle on Dec 3, where they met their son Alonzo. “The train, it was bad. I just felt like my whole body is breaking up.”

See also  Why are migrant workers in dorms still under strict control?

The day after arriving in the city, the couple went to St James’ Park to watch a football match.

But the next evening, he told the jury, he collapsed at the hotel after feeling a sharp shooting pain from the base of his spine to his head, and in his legs.An ambulance was called, and Fong was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary for treatment.

Fong said that he and his wife were both “feeling very dejected, feeling helpless, lost and really don’t know what to do”. When they returned to the hotel, he told the jury he felt pain and discomfort, his movement was restricted and was very worried about falling on his wife. They then spoke about changing their holiday plans because of Fong’s condition.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.