MTR arson suspect told of plan in letter to police

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 January, 2004, 12:00am

The 66-year-old man suspected of carrying out Monday's MTR arson attack wrote to police and the Correctional Services Department telling of his plans, but they did not receive the letters in time, government sources said.

While it is understood that the suspect mailed the letters before the arson attack, which happened about 9am on Monday, the Castle Peak police station and the department received them on Tuesday.

Police managed to track him down as the letters contained enough information to reveal his identity.

The government sources said the suspect, who had no record of mental illness, felt society in general had treated him unfairly. They said he launched the attack to vent his anger.

The suspect, who has difficulty walking, was convicted in 2000 and 2002 of offences relating to the riding of a bicycle. He lives alone on welfare and is said to have a poor relationship with his family, the sources said.

An earlier suspect, who was arrested by police after he sought treatment for burns on his arm at the Prince of Wales Hospital on Monday night, was released on $5,000 surety yesterday. The 55-year-old was asked to report back to police next month.

The older man, who was still being held for questioning by police last night, was arrested when officers raided his sixth-floor apartment at On Ting Estate at 11.45pm on Tuesday.

Police seized evidence from the suspect's home, including bottles of paint thinner.

They also searched a park outside Tuen Mun Court, where other suspected evidence is believed to have been dumped in rubbish bins.

Some of the items seized at the suspect's home are allegedly similar to items found at the scene of the arson attack - five bottles of paint thinner and five 250-gram cylinders of liquified petroleum gas.

During the attack, a bottle of thinner was set alight in the first compartment as the packed Central-bound train was crossing the tunnel from Tsim Sha Tsui to Admiralty at 9.12am on Monday. Fourteen people suffered smoke inhalation and minor injuries.

The suspect suffered leg injuries in a traffic accident about 20 years ago and has been on welfare since 1984.

He was fined $800 in August 2000 for cycling on Tuen Mun Promenade. He filed an appeal before the High Court but lost.

In June 2002, he was arrested by police for driving without a valid licence while riding a bicycle installed with a motor in Tuen Mun.

He was given a suspended sentence for one year and banned from applying for a driving licence for a year. His appeal was rejected in December 2002.

The Social Welfare Department's senior clinical psychologist, Chan Yiu-kee, said people who felt victimised might try to alleviate their feelings by creating more innocent victims through some violent anti-social behaviour.