Friday, 20 June 2008

Wife jailed for 'monstrous act'

The burnt out home and, inset, victim Stephen Chin.

A woman who killed her quadriplegic husband after setting fire to his house has been sentenced to more than five years in jail, with the judge describing the crime as a "monstrous act".

Grace Soon, 71, had told police that she killed her husband because she had been frustrated that her husband had spent all his money on prostitutes, homosexuals and transvestites, had wanted her to engage in unnatural sexual acts and that he had given her syphilis.

She had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her estranged husband Stephen Chin, 63, after she threw a fire bomb in the bedroom window of his Housing Department bungalow at Daceyville and doused the front fence in petrol, in September 2006.

Justice Michael Grove said Soon knew Mr Chin, who required round-the-clock care, would not have been able to escape the blaze.

"On any view, killing by fire a person whom you knew had no capacity to self mobilise from bed was a monstrous act," he said.

Mr Chin, who had been a minister in Malaysia and Singapore, became quadriplegic in 1999 after he broke his neck while engaging with another person in "a sexual act which involved unusual physicality", the court heard.

The couple had been living in separate houses since about that time.

The court also heard that Soon had been "obsessed and preoccupied" with money and financial matters and had been upset at her husband's claims to her property as part of their divorce settlement.

Justice Michael Grove said that Mr Chin's actions had been "hypocritical and in gross abuse" of the marriage, Soon's motive for the killing had been financial.

"The prospect of property settlement was utmost in your mind and it inspired your crime," he told the court.

Justice Grove accepted that Soon, who had suffered a nervous breakdown in her youth, had a "vulnerability to succumbing to psychological defect" and that her capacity for good judgement at the time of the killing had been reduced.

However, he did not accept that Soon had not been responsible for her actions.

"I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that you were aware of your actions in starting the fire, that you intended to kill Stephen Chin thereby and that you knew that in his condition he would be unable to save himself from the conflagration,"

Soon was sentenced to nine years in jail with a non-parole period of five years and six months. She will not be released until at least 2012.

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