Pair get life for fatal 1999 chopping
Two masterminds behind a fatal chopper attack on a 40-year-old newspaper vendor were jailed for life yesterday after a jury unanimously found them guilty of murder.
Ng Sik-kei, 52, a leader in the 14K triad society, and Tsoi Wai-keung, 45, were also convicted of being triad members, for which Ng was jailed for five years and Tsoi for three.
Relatives of the pair wept in the public gallery and an emotional Ng repeatedly proclaimed his innocence in the dock as Madam Justice Clare-Marie Beeson blamed the pair for organising the killing of Ho Wai-har in 1999. 'It took a long time to bring justice,' the Court of First Instance judge said.
Outside court, Chief Inspector Ian Cowieson of the Kowloon West regional crime unit said two more suspects were still being hunted.
He admitted it had taken a long time to gather enough evidence for the charges against Ng and Tsoi, and explained that Tsoi was in Macau when Ho was hacked to death in Sham Shui Po, which had given him a strong alibi.
'Those masterminds are usually very smart. They simply hire someone to do the dirty work so they can always keep their hands clean and that makes police investigation more difficult,' Cowieson said. 'But police are determined to bring the masterminds to court, no matter how difficult it is.'
Ho's family was not in court yesterday but Cowieson said he believed they would be pleased with the verdict in the retrial, ordered after a jury panel was dismissed in November due to legal challenges from the defence.
The court heard that Ng and Tsoi, both newspaper retailers, had told vendors in Sham Shui Po to increase their orders for two newspapers, but failed to reach an agreement with them after negotiations.
Ho, who negotiated on behalf of the vendors, was subsequently attacked and hacked to death at her stall on September 22, 1999.
During the trial, three of the woman's four attackers turned against Ng and Tsoi, their 'big brother', volunteering to be prosecution witnesses. Three of them had earlier been convicted of murder and the other of manslaughter.
One of the convicted killers, Li Cho-ming, who is serving a life sentence for murdering Ho as she set up her stall at 5am, told the court earlier that he and his accomplices had prepared methodically for the killing.
They coated their hands with spray-on bandage to hide their fingerprints, donned surgical masks and grabbed 40cm-long beef knives before jumping from their getaway car and attacking Ho.
Li said he gave evidence because he was remorseful and had become a Christian.
The court heard that Ho had spent all her working life at the stall, which was started by her parents more than 30 years ago in the doorway of the Ying Bun restaurant in Tai Po Road.