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Australian gets 10 years for killing 'demon' wife in Singapore

Expat who believed he was Jesus Christ is sentenced after pleading guilty to culpable homicide

UCA News reporter, Singapore

UCA News reporter, Singapore

Published: May 25, 2021 09:23 AM GMT

Updated: May 25, 2021 09:32 AM GMT

Australian gets 10 years for killing 'demon' wife in Singapore

Paul Leslie Quirk, 49, an Australian with a history of psychological illness, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for killing his Singaporean wife while believing she was a demon. (Photo: Facebook)

A court in Singapore has handed down a 10-year jail term to an Australian man who killed his Singaporean wife after believing she was a demon.

Paul Leslie Quirk, 49, who has a history of psychological illness, was sentenced after he pleaded guilty on May 24 to a charge of culpable homicide for killing his wife, Christiana Khoo Gek Hwa.

Quirk killed her by hitting her with martial arts sticks and stabbing her in the neck with a kitchen knife at their flat in Sengkang condominium on Jan. 4 last year, police said.

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During the investigation, he told officers that he repeatedly and insistently heard voices prompting him to kill her as “she was a demon” and he was “Jesus Christ.” He then stabbed to death the 10-month-old family poodle and threw it off the balcony as he believed it was “familiar with the demon.”

Quirk moved to Singapore in 2016 and worked as a senior podiatrist at Punggol Polyclinic. He married Khoo in 2017 and adopted her son from her previous marriage. The 15-year-old boy is under the care of Khoo's mother.

Khoo was a director and consultant at a management consulting firm based in Burlington, Massachusetts, and worked for the company in Singapore, according to her LinkedIn profile.

He started believing he needed to save the world by dying, leading to two self-harm incidents

Neighbors told investigators that the couple had a relatively happy life, through they had arguments at times, and they were often seen walking holding hands.

The couple also reportedly visited the nearby Catholic Spirituality Center that serves Catholics to deepen spiritual formation.

Quirk was first diagnosed with depression in 2001 and was placed on anti-depression medication, leading to his apparent recovery.

However, in 2005, he allegedly started to experience auditory and visual hallucinations. He started believing he needed to save the world by dying, leading to two self-harm incidents.

He began anti-psychotic medication and the symptoms largely remedied, but he suffered a relapse in 2013 after he stopped his medication. He got well with the resumption of medication the following year.

The prosecution found Quirk stopped medication four months prior to the offense.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Wong Woon Kwong and Andre Chong, who made submissions for Quirk’s 10-year jail term, took into consideration his mental instability.

"Rather than a killer whose otherwise rational impulses were exacerbated by a mental disorder, the accused’s mental disorder meant that his mind was in fact devoid of reality and rationality. Prevention and rehabilitation, rather than deterrence and retribution, should guide the court in the determination of an appropriate sentence," they said.

I used to see this couple in Punggol Plaza most of the time. They looked like any normal couple

The murder of Khoo and the dog shocked Singapore citizens across faith and ethnicity. Many posted on social media to express grief following the sentencing of Quirk.

“I used to see this couple in Punggol Plaza most of the time. They looked like any normal couple. But I never knew what was going on with them. Very sad for the Khoo family. Very sad indeed. And the poor dog got entangled with this human mess,” Rani Sundra Rajan wrote on Facebook.

Some also criticized how a man with mental illness was allowed to move on without monitoring.

“If he was diagnosed with a serious mental illness, he should be monitored closely to make sure he takes his medication without fail. Should not allow him to practice as a podiatrist at the Polyclinic,” wrote Ken Hon.

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