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10 years’ jail for schizophrenic man who killed wife, dog in Buangkok condo while having hallucinations

SINGAPORE — Thinking his wife was a demon that he needed to banish from existence, Paul Leslie Quirk viciously beat her with martial arts weapons in their Buangkok condominium unit in a bid to “finish her” in January last year.

10 years’ jail for schizophrenic man who killed wife, dog in Buangkok condo while having hallucinations

Paul Leslie Quirk (centre in car backseat) being taken to the State Courts on Jan 4, 2020.

  • Paul Leslie Quirk, 49, was under the delusion that his wife was a demon 
  • The diagnosed schizophrenic began hearing voices in his head telling him to kill her
  • He beat her with martial arts weapons and eventually stabbed her to death
  • He also stabbed their family poodle and threw it off the balcony
  • He had a history of not complying with instructions to take his medication 

 

SINGAPORE — Thinking his wife was a demon that he needed to banish from existence, Paul Leslie Quirk viciously beat her with martial arts weapons in their Buangkok condominium unit in a bid to “finish her” in January last year.

Christina Khoo Gek Hwa fled to the balcony, where fellow residents watched in shock as he continued assaulting her while she pleaded for help.

When she ran back into the apartment and eventually collapsed, he fatally stabbed her multiple times in the neck.

He then similarly killed a 10-month-old pet poodle and threw it off the balcony.

On Monday (May 24), the Australian, now aged 49, was sentenced in the High Court to 10 years’ jail. 

He pleaded guilty to culpable homicide — reduced from a more serious charge of murder as he had killed Khoo, then aged 43, while suffering from auditory hallucations stemming from a schizophrenic relapse.

Another charge of committing mischief, in relation to killing the puppy, was taken into consideration for sentencing.

Quirk, who was from Melbourne and was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2005, had grown more sporadic in taking his medication in the few months leading up to the killing on Jan 2 last year.

He first moved to Singapore in 2016 and tied the knot with Khoo the following year. Together with her son, now aged 15, from her first marriage, the family moved into a third-floor apartment at Esparina Residences.

He was here on a long-term visit pass and worked as a senior podiatrist at Punggol Polyclinic, the court heard.

VOICES TOLD HIM TO ‘FINISH’ WIFE

The day before the fatal incident, the couple argued at home after Quirk told her that he wanted to return to Australia. They would occasionally quarrel over the alimony he owed his ex-wife.

He then went over to where his parents and brother were staying. They came from Australia to visit him in Singapore 

At about 3am, he sent Khoo a series of WhatsApp text messages, apologising for walking out on her. He also said that he was not feeling himself and was quite confused.

He then returned to their condo before the couple went to the nearby Catholic Spirituality Centre along Upper Serangoon Road later in the morning. 

There, Quirk heard a voice telling him repeatedly: “I have a chance to stop this from getting worse.” 

The voices soon began growing more insistent, saying that Khoo was evil and that staying with her would upset the order and balance of everything. He also saw a passer-by wearing a marathon “finisher” T-shirt, and his mind broke this down to “finish her”.

He did not tell his wife about the voices and they went home at about 11.30am. Their son was still in school and they were alone in the apartment.

As Quirk took a shower, voices told him that now was the time to strike and to hurry up.

SCREAMED FOR HELP FROM BALCONY

Grabbing two pairs of sticks used by those who practise the martial art Kali, he began hitting her “forcefully and indiscriminately” on various parts of her body and head, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Andre Chong told the court.

She soon ran out onto the balcony and screamed for help, but he kept assaulting her.

The people living directly below them saw her leaning forward on the balcony, bleeding. She stretched one hand out in a plea for help but Quirk pulled her back.

He continued attacking her with the sticks and a plastic clothes hanger and she soon collapsed from the blows.

Quirk then retrieved a knife from the kitchen and stabbed her, killing her.

Immediately after, he stabbed the pet dog several times as well, before throwing it off the balcony. He then told his brother that “it is done” in a WhatsApp message.

Responding to several reports, police officers went to the couple's apartment.

Quirk opened the door while covered in blood, telling them that he had killed his wife because she was a demon in human form whom he had to get rid of “from this plane of existence”.

He later claimed that he had heard voices prompting him to kill Khoo, adding that he “felt more at peace” afterwards.

He added that he killed the poodle because it was the "demon’s familiar".

DEPRESSION

DPP Chong told the court that Quirk was first diagnosed with depression in 2001. He began experiencing auditory hallucinations in 2005 and self-harmed twice, believing that he could save the world by dying.

He went to a private psychiatrist in Singapore and complied with taking his daily medication until around August 2019 when he began taking it every two to three days.

In October that year, his psychiatrist observed his mental state was normal and gave him his regular four-month prescription.

After his crimes, a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) found that he was likely in the throes of a psychotic relapse that had affected his impulse control and impaired his mental responsibility for his actions.

However, his initial attempts to resist the hallucinations showed some level of control.

‘HORRIFIC AND BIZARRE’

The prosecution sought at least 10 years’ jail in order to secure his compliance with medication.

DPP Chong noted that Qurik's risk of a violent relapse was high if he stopped taking them, and it had been his third relapse from failing to stick to his medication regime.

In mitigation, his lawyer Anand Nalachandran said that he was clearly not thinking right or rationally, having “succumbed to powerful delusions”.

An IMH report stated that his parents thought everything was fine when they came to visit him and only noticed that he seemed “a bit more removed and distant” right before the killing. 

Mr Nalachandran, who sought six to seven years’ jail, said: “He came to Singapore and voluntarily sought out treatment and complied with medication. Unfortunately, he felt he was in remission again. He didn’t reduce his medication, he adjusted them.” 

The lawyer said that Quirk will likely be repatriated after his sentence and will stay with either his parents or brother, who have pledged to supervise him.

In sentencing Quirk, Justice Ang Cheng Hock called the offences “horrific and bizarre”, noting that incarceration would both serve to protect the public from a violent relapse and rehabilitate him in a secure and structured environment.

“It was entirely reckless for him to reduce his medication… This tragically led to the killing of Madam Khoo,” the judge said.

For culpable homicide, Quirk could have been jailed for life or up to 20 years with a fine or caning.

Related topics

court crime culpable homicide death schizophrenia

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