Schizophrenic man admits killing mum

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2007, 12:00am

A deaf and mute man suffering from schizophrenia has been sentenced to indefinite detention at a psychiatric facility after he admitted killing his mother during an attack of paranoia.

Ngan Kin-chung, 50, yesterday pleaded guilty in the Court of First Instance to a single count of manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility arising from the death of 68-year-old Cheng Yan-oi on October 18, last year.

He initially had faced a charge of murder, but the prosecution had indicated it was willing to accept a guilty plea to the lesser charge.

The court heard that Ngan had lost his hearing and speech due to a childhood illness, and had been diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. At the time of the attack he was living with his parents and his 21-year-old son in a North Point flat.

On the morning of the incident, his father and son went to work at the Fairy Farm Restaurant, which was owned by the family and where Ngan worked as a chef, leaving him and his mother behind.

At 10.05am a security guard saw Ngan, covered in blood, emerge from a lift and signal for him to call 999. He then watched on CCTV as Ngan took the lift back up to the 15th floor, where the family lived.

A short time later, ambulance officers discovered Ngan calmly standing in the lounge room of the flat. His mother's body was lying in a hallway near the kitchen.

She had multiple cuts to her throat, face and arms. She was lying in a large pool of clotted blood and her carotid artery was dry. She was declared dead at the scene.

Ngan later explained in a police interview that he had believed his mother was going to have him arrested over a food poisoning incident that had happened at the restaurant.

He had pleaded with her not to turn him in and to let him keep his job but her response had only enraged him. He had fetched a chopper and attacked her.

Inquiries by police revealed there had been no food poisoning incident.

It took some time for the plea to be taken as Ngan was unsure initially of the distinction between manslaughter and murder. The crime of murder carries an automatic life sentence in Hong Kong.

There was difficulty translating the conceptual difference from English into Cantonese, and then into sign language.

To be sure that the accused was aware exactly to what he was pleading, Mr Justice Alan Wright adjourned proceedings so that Ngan's counsel, Andrew Raffell, could have his client's plea written down and signed.

'I admit killing my mother,' Ngan said. 'But I did not murder her.'

Relying on advice from five experts reports, Mr Justice Wright sentenced him to an indefinite term of treatment at Siu Lam psychiatric hospital.

Ngan will be released when a board of review determines he is no longer a threat to society.