10 years for torching partner

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 October, 1996, 12:00am

A tormented woman who doused her lover with petrol and then set him alight because he betrayed her was given a 10-year sentence yesterday.

Chau Pui-wan, 32, and Wong Cho-wah, 34, were business partners and lovers. But bankruptcy hit both relationships in March last year and Chau lost her life savings and her boyfriend.

In an attempt to straighten out their failed jewellery business, Wong went to Chau's Boundary Street flat on October 13 last year.

Chau, a former massage parlour worker, lost her temper and began to hurl objects at Wong. She waved a burning tissue paper in front of him and, with tears in her eyes, drenched him with petrol and set him ablaze.

Desperately, Wong tried to open the front door as flames engulfed him, but Chau threw her arms around the burning man and yelled: 'Let's go to hell together. We'll burn together.' Wong suffered burns to 45 per cent of his body, has undergone 10 operations and is facing years of hospital visits. His face is hideously scarred and, a year later, he is still swathed in bandages.

Chau had pleaded not guilty to attempted murder. The court heard she had attempted suicide by slitting her wrists, overdosing on drugs and trying to hang herself.

Mr Justice Arthur Leong Shiu-chung acknowledged in the High Court that Chau needed psychiatric help, but said an act 'causing such long-lasting suffering cannot be taken lightly'.

Chau wept as the judge gave his ruling. He said it would be up to the Director of Correctional Services to decide whether her sentence would be served in jail or at Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre.