Court told of victim's pleas as flat burned

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2008, 12:00am

Psychotic mother 'ignored calls for help'

A daughter was heard crying and begging her psychotic mother to open the door before the young woman was burned to death in their public flat, a court has heard.

A next-door neighbour told a jury in the Court of First Instance yesterday that she heard Yeung Man-fung, 20, call repeatedly to Ng Mei-lan: 'Mummy, no! Please open the door!'

Yeung was found dead on the floor of the flat in Tai Hing Estate after the fire, which began about 5.30am last May 2.

Her 47-year-old mother, who was beside her, survived.

Sin Mei-fong, a friend of Yeung's who had know her for about 15 years, was giving evidence to the court, which has to decide whether Ng committed acts that could lead to charges of manslaughter or arson, although she has been found mentally unfit to plead.

Ms Sin said the shouts woke her and she went out of her apartment to see heavy smoke pouring from the flat next door.

'I then shouted at her door, asking: 'Ah Fung, is your flat on fire?' I asked the question three times, then I heard [Yeung's] voice saying: 'Yes,'' she said.

Ms Sin's family called the police and fled to the lobby.

Prosecutor Diane Crebbin alleges that Yeung died in the blaze that was set by her mother.

The court heard earlier that Ng, who had suffered from schizophrenia since 1975, believed her daughter did not die but had run away from the blaze and was being hidden by firemen and police.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict on Wednesday that Ng, represented by barrister Charlotte Draycott, was mentally disabled and unfit to stand trial.

Yesterday, senior fire officer Lau Yu-kit told the court that Ng and Yeung were unconscious on the floor when rescuers broke into the flat, which had been locked with two padlocks on the metal gate.

He said the firemen were unable to detect any sign of life from either the mother or the daughter at first, but eventually they were able to resuscitate Ng.

He said the temperature at the scene had been so high a hinge on the kitchen door had fallen off.

Investigations indicated that the fire could have started on the lower of two bunk beds in the living room.

Government chemist Wong Wing-cheong also told the court that forensic examination of the scene suggested the fire started on the lower bunk.

Pathologist Poon Wai-ming, who conducted the post-mortem examination on Yeung's body, said she died of severe burns that covered 85 per cent of her body.

Dr Poon said the examination confirmed Yeung was alive after the fire broke out. However, he was unable to say how long it was before she died.

The hearing before Mr Justice Michael McMahon will continue on Monday.


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