Another police officer found dead in apparent suicide

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 March, 2009, 12:00am

A senior police officer who had been covering the duties of two officers was found dead in a Kwai Chung flat in an apparent suicide yesterday.

If confirmed, he would be the second policeman to have killed himself in three days.

Work stress and health problems could have driven acting Senior Superintendent Peter Lau Chok-ki to take his own life, an initial investigation showed, according to sources.

The 45-year-old officer, who was married, had recently told colleagues that he was unhappy at work, a police source said.

Lau set charcoal alight in the Hui Kwai House flat at Kwai Chung Estate, police said. It is understood the flat was his girlfriend's home.

The officer, who was on sick leave on Thursday and yesterday, was found unconscious by a colleague in the flat at about 1pm. Burned charcoal was found at the scene.

A police spokesman said Lau was declared dead at the scene. No foul play was suspected.

Lau's death may be the second police suicide this week.

On Wednesday night, a 31-year-old off-duty constable attached to the marine police was found dead beside burned charcoal at his village house in Fan Kam Road, Pat Heung. Initial inquiries found he was in debt.

Lau, a policeman for more than 20 years, was promoted to superintendent in 2000 and had been attached to the operation wing of New Territories North region.

He had been covering additional duties since the beginning of this week, while his superior attended a training course, the source said.

He was said to have been recently interviewed for a promotion. 'He was a very good and capable officer, and took his work very seriously, but he gave himself pressure.'

Lau had also been suffering from bone diseases and had undergone several serious surgical procedures, the source said.

A colleague described Lau as a 'good and polite' police officer who enjoyed good relations with his workmates.

Describing Lau as a 'hardworking and well-respected' officer, Chief Superintendent David Ng Ka-sing, head of the public relations branch, said he was saddened by the officer's death. He said officers from the force's welfare unit would offer help to Lau's family.

Chief Inspector Lau Tat-keung, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Police Inspectors' Association, called on the force to study the extent of work-related stress facing police officers. 'Officers should know that they have an option to say no and seek help when they are too stressed,' Chief Inspector Lau said.

Four policemen, including Senior Inspector Michael Chan Kung-wai, killed themselves last year. In 2007, six officers committed suicide.

The inquest into Chan's death heard he had been overworked.