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Funeral director accused of abetting ex-boyfriend's suicide was beneficiary in his S$1 million life policy

Warning: This story contains descriptions of a suicide.

SINGAPORE: A funeral director accused of abetting her ex-boyfriend in his suicide was a beneficiary in a S$1 million (USD$730,700) life policy he had purchased in 2019, a court heard on Monday (Oct 30).

Alverna Cher Sheue Pin, 41, is on trial for intentionally aiding 32-year-old Wee Jun Xiang to die by helping pour nitrogen gas into his car on May 16, 2020.

She is contesting a second charge of obstructing justice by asking another man to drive a car containing the nitrogen gas tank away, disposing of evidence and lying to the police.

In a document containing facts agreed on by both the prosecution and defence, tendered to the court on Monday, the relationship between Cher and Mr Wee was further explained.

The pair were in a romantic relationship that started in early 2019.

Around May 2019, Mr Wee bought a S$1 million life policy with Prudential Singapore and nominated Cher as one of the beneficiaries.

He told her about this. The pair broke up in September or October 2019, but remained friends, the court heard.

Around February 2020, Mr Wee shared his suicidal ideations with Cher. He also penned a suicide note that same month, which he sent to Cher and some of his family members.

He planned to leave money behind for his family members and Cher following his suicide.

To this end, he bought various insurance policies and named his family members and Cher as beneficiaries.

Mr Wee then asked Cher how he could make his death appear like it was from natural causes.

According to the court document of agreed facts, Cher told Mr Wee that he needed to have medical history or a family doctor, and that a death due to a heart attack would appear natural.

She told Mr Wee that she needed to be the first to find his body, so she could claim his body immediately without police involvement.

Around May 2020, Cher received texts from Mr Wee about people overseas who had killed themselves using nitrogen gas.

Around May 1, 2020, Mr Wee texted Cher, saying it was the “endgame” for him. He said he intended to take his own life within the month or June.

Cher offered to be the executor of his assets following his death, and encouraged Mr Wee to have a funeral, with his songs being played, and a write-up done by a reporter.

Mr Wee then made plans to get a nitrogen gas tank and told Cher that he planned to “fume” his car with it while he was inside.

He told Cher to keep the duration of his funeral wake short, to put a small obituary in the newspaper, and to scatter his ashes in the sea.

Cher responded that she would retain his ashes until she was ready to let him go.

She said she would publish his life story on social media following his death.

To make sure that the beneficiaries of his insurance policies would receive their payouts, Mr Wee asked Cher for her views on how his death could appear to be from a heart attack.

Cher gave him the contact details of a doctor she was acquainted with. She intended for Mr Wee to give this doctor false information about his health condition, so the doctor could later certify that his death was natural.

Mr Wee called the doctor and went for an examination, where he complained of chest pains. The doctor asked Mr Wee to go for further checks.

After Mr Wee had seen the doctor, Cher told him that the police may not investigate the circumstances surrounding his death, as there was a chance the doctor may sign off on his death as natural.

They discussed about the transfer of properties and whether a will was required. Mr Wee also acknowledged and proposed edits to text that Cher prepared, for a message she intended to display on his wreaths, on social media and in his eulogy.

The pair had a “trial run” for his intended death by suicide, court documents stated.

They also agreed on a back-up plan if he did not die by nitrogen gas, with Cher telling him to “die handsome”.

Related:

Funeral director on trial for abetting ex-boyfriend in his suicide, obstructing justice

THE DAY OF HIS DEATH

On the day of his death on May 16, 2020, Mr Wee drove his Audi containing the nitrogen gas tank to the multi-storey car park at Block 145A Bedok Reservoir Road.

He texted Cher to say “commencing”, among other things, and Cher responded, “See (you) in another world.”

More than an hour after this, Cher drove a van to the same car park and parked beside Mr Wee’s Audi.

She saw that some windows were slightly open, with smoke coming from the rear seat.

Putting on latex gloves to prevent leaving any prints, she opened the front passenger door and saw Mr Wee alive and conscious in the driver’s seat. She sat next to him and passed him various items.

After this, more liquid nitrogen gas was poured into a bag on the floorboard of the left rear seat of the Audi. The prosecution’s case is that Cher was the one who poured it, but this is not accepted by the defence.

After more liquid nitrogen had been poured into the bag, Mr Wee placed the gas tank in Cher’s van before taking his place in the driver’s seat again. 

He asked Cher to return to the car park at 4pm, and Cher left the location.

When Cher returned to the car later that afternoon, she saw that Mr Wee had died. She removed the bag from the floorboard, placed it in her van and drove it to a nearby estate where she threw the bag into a rubbish bin.

She then contacted Mr Wee’s doctor, as well as a freelance undertaker, Mr Lawrence Cheo Oon Hui.

The doctor arrived, pronounced Mr Wee dead and asked Cher to call the police, which she did.

Before the police arrived, Mr Cheo exchanged vehicles with Cher and drove the van away with the gas tank inside.

The trial continues.

The penalty for abetting suicide is a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine. For obstructing the course of justice, an offender can be jailed up to seven years, fined, or both. 

Where to get help:

Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1767

Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222

Singapore Association for Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019

You can also find a list of international helplines here. If someone you know is at immediate risk, call 24-hour emergency medical services.

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