Second retrial for two accused of killing loan shark

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 12:00am

Two men who have been convicted twice of strangling a loan shark and sawing his body into pieces were granted yet another retrial yesterday by the Court of Appeal.

Wong Wai-man, 31, and Hau King-yeung, 28, were granted a retrial by the chief judge of the High Court, Mr Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, over the December 17, 1996, killing of loanshark Ma Chun-mo, 24.

But their accomplice, Lee Kar-yeung, 22, was denied a retrial because Mr Justice Ma said he had earlier withdrawn his application for an appeal against conviction after being pressured by his mother.

'We are not without sympathy because the others have had their convictions quashed,' Mr Justice Ma said.

He advised Lee to make an application to the chief executive to reinstate his appeal.

The 1996 murder case was the first in Hong Kong in which prosecutors had secured a conviction without a body or forensic evidence linking the killers to the crime. The victim's body parts were never found.

Wong and Hau's convictions were partly on the strength of their alleged confessions to police, which they denied at both trials.

Ma was lured to a flat in Tai Kok Tsui on December 17, 1996, where he was overpowered by three men.

After strangling Ma, the killers left the flat to play billiards and mahjong. They returned to the crime scene the following morning and cut up Ma's body with saws.

The body parts were dumped at a rubbish collection point in Tai Po, from where refuse is transported to a landfill in Sha Tau Kok.

After their first trial in 1998, Wong and Hau were jailed for life, while Lee was jailed for 30 years for murder as he was aged 15 at the time of the offence.

In November 2000, the Court of Final Appeal ordered a retrial, citing a misdirection by Madam Justice Clare-Marie Beeson.

In September 2001, the three men were again convicted, with Wong and Hau again being sentenced for life, while Lee received 24 years.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Ma ordered a retrial after the Court of Appeal last year quashed the conviction of Wong and Hau, who have spent seven years in jail.

'In our view, the public interest is really that a retrial be ordered and have a jury establish one way or another whether a murder has been established,' he said.