Convictions stand for murder in 1996

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2005, 12:00am

The city's first convictions for murder without a body or forensic evidence linking the accused to the victim have been confirmed, after two men who had maintained their innocence for eight years pleaded guilty and a third was convicted after a third trial.

One of the two who pleaded guilty before the retrial, Wong Wai-man, 33, was jailed for life yesterday. Lee Kar-yeung, 25, who also pleaded guilty, will be sentenced tomorrow after High Court Justice Louis Tong Po-sun ordered background reports. Hau King-yeung, 27, will be sentenced today after a jury found him guilty last night.

The court heard the trio had strangled loanshark Ma Chun-mo in 1996 because Wong and Hau could not repay a $600,000 loan, then cut up the body and disposed of the parts at a rubbish dump. The parts have never been found.

The two who pleaded guilty were dealt with yesterday after the jury retired in Hau's case.

Prosecutor Kumar Ramanathan told the court Ma, a hawker and money lender, was reported missing by his family three days after his disappearance in December 1996.

During police inquiries Wong, whose name appeared in loan documents possessed by Ma, admitted killing him in Hau's rented apartment because they were unable to pay back a $600,000 loan.

Lee, 15 at the time, told police he agreed to help in return for being allowed to stay at Hau's home.

Mr Ramanathan said Wong told police Lee pinned down Ma's legs while Hau strangled him with a nylon string. The three then left to play billiards and mahjong until dawn and returned to the flat to cut up Ma's body with a saw. Wong said the parts were loaded into cartons and left at a dump in Tai Po.

The men then used Ma's bank card to empty his account of $28,000 and shared it.

The trio were convicted after trials in 1998 and 2001 but succeeded in overturning the verdicts on appeal, leading to retrials.