Attackers may have chopped wrong man

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 August, 2004, 12:00am

Victim who lost hand denies love affairs or triad links that may have led to restaurant assault

A man whose right hand was chopped off by two assailants in a Mongkok restaurant on Friday afternoon may have been attacked by mistake.

Police came to this conclusion after interviewing the 39-year-old victim in hospital yesterday following surgery to reattach the hand.

'The victim denied he had any link with triads or [that he was] involved in any love affairs [that could be linked] to the attack,' Senior Inspector Lam Siu-wah said.

'He also did not believe it was related to his job as an insurance agent as he [has been in] the industry for only a very short period of time.

'He claimed he had no clue at all why the attack happened. After the interview this morning, we started to suspect that the attack could be a mistake,' Senior Inspector Lam said.

Lee Kwok-sum remained in intensive care at Kwong Wah Hospital last night.

Police were unable to take a statement from him until yesterday because of the severity of his injury.

Police were still seeking the two assailants. Senior Inspector Lam said they had video footage of the attack from a camera in the Sun Wah restaurant in Prince Edward Road West, opposite Mongkok police station.

The attack happened when Mr Lee was having a drink with his girlfriend. Two men rushed into the restaurant, one pointed a knife at Mr Lee's throat and the other chopped his right hand off. The pair then escaped in a silver Lexus driven by a third man.

The restaurant owner yesterday refused to return calls.

Senior Inspector Lam said the Lexus had a false licence plate but police were unsure whether it was a stolen car.

Police yesterday visited the victim's home, revisited the crime scene and traced the attackers' escape route.

People with any information regarding the attack can call a police hotline: 6148 1197.

Ip Wing-yuk, orthopaedic surgery professor at the University of Hong Kong, said surgery to reattach severed limbs normally took about 10 hours.

The success of an operation depended on whether the injury was clear, cut as well as the age of the patient.

With advanced medical technology, the success rate could reach 80 per cent.

'We have to fix the bone fragment and then use stitches to reattach the severed soft tissues including muscle, blood vessels and nerves,' Dr Ip said.

'The use of new technology has helped increase the success rate of the operation.'

She said additional surgery was often necessary.

But patients could resume no more than 70 of the normal function even after a full recovery.

Dr Ip said patients would not be able to use the injured hand to carry out functions such as lifting heavy items or more 'refined' motions such as using chopsticks or writing.

'Patients also have to undergo three or four years of physiotherapy and occupational therapy to resume the function of their hands. So it is a long way for recovery,' she added.