Couple's toilet dispute ended in wife's death

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2007, 12:00am

A heated argument over toilet usage turned deadly, leading an elderly man to strangle his wife, a court heard yesterday.

Cho Pui-kee, 77, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his 73-year-old wife, Chan Nui-oi, on June 6. He had previously offered to plead guilty to manslaughter, the court heard.

Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Francis Lo Hing-cheung told the Court of First Instance that Cho killed his wife of 48 years after a row about the 'use of the toilet' in their Housing Department flat in Yuen Long. Details of the row were not revealed in court.

Mr Lo said there was no disputing that Cho had caused the death of his wife, or that the killing of the elderly woman was unlawful. The only dispute was whether he had had any intention to kill her.

Chan's mildly decomposed body was found three days after the incident after one of the couple's six adult children was unable to contact her.

Cho Mei-kuen testified that she had gone to her parents' house on the morning of June 9 but had not been able to unlock the security screen. She had gone home to get another set of keys, but was still unable to unlock the door.

Eventually, she and a brother were able to break the lock and enter the flat, whereupon they found that the door to their parents' bedroom was locked. She told the court she had gone to the balcony to try to see inside.

'I saw a human body rolled up in a quilt' on the bed, she told the court.

Firemen later broke open the door. An autopsy revealed Chan had been strangled.

Robert Forrest, counsel for Cho Pui-kee, cross-examined the daughter about a statement she had made to police in which she had described her mother as someone who 'appeared to be unyielding but was actually soft-hearted'.

Under cross-examination, she told the court she meant her mother nagged a lot and could be quite stubborn.

A niece of the couple testified later that Cho Pui-kee had arranged to meet her the day before the body was discovered.

He was arrested at her home on the day the body was found.

The trial, before Mr Justice Michael McMahon, continues on Monday.