Man gets life for killing girlfriend to get insurance cash

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am

An insurance salesman who drowned his girlfriend in Victoria Harbour to pocket a HK$2.8 million life insurance policy he had taken out on her by forging her signature was jailed for life yesterday for murder.

In sentencing Chow Wai-kei, 31, and friend Kong Pui-lam, 28, for killing Chow's girlfriend Chen Fan, the judge described their actions as 'the most despicable of crimes'.

'In all the years I have practised law, I have never seen a more callous and genuinely heinous crime than the one you two together contrived,' Mr Justice Darryl Saw said. 'This was not spur of the moment. It was a cold, calculated decision made by the two of you to take the life of an innocent young woman for the basest of reasons - mainly that you were in need of money.'

The Court of First Instance heard how Chow and his insurance broker friend Kong Pui plied mainland nightclub hostess Chen, 34, with drink before pushing her into the harbour off Tsim Sha Tsui, knowing she could not swim. They forced her head under to be sure she died.

The jury unanimously found Chow guilty of murder and Kong guilty of attempted murder. Kong was jailed for 21 years.

Chen - who left her husband for Chow after meeting him in August 2009 - died after she was pushed into the harbour on February 12 last year.

Chow had forged Chen's signature to take out a HK$2.8 million insurance policy on her life, which took effect three months before her death, and another HK$1 million policy, which was never approved, a month before her death, the court heard.

Kong and Chow pleaded not guilty to a joint count of murder. Attempted murder had been raised as a possibility after Kong's barrister, Paul Loughran, discussed it in his closing submissions and Saw included it in his summation.

Once the insurance policy had been put in place, the judge said, the two set about bringing about her death. 'In the case of both of you, this was the most despicable of crimes,' he said.

Kong and Chow knew that Chen was alone in Hong Kong and that she would not be missed, he said.

Michael Arthur, for the prosecution, told the trial that that before the killing, Chow and Kong checked the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront before meeting Chen early in the morning.

The trio went to Pam's Pub at New Mandarin Plaza, where Chow and Kong gave her alcohol. They later walked her to the waterfront, where they killed her at about 5am.

Arthur said Kong confessed to police that he and Chow had talked about a plan to kill Chen and that Chow promised to give him half the HK$2.8 million payout.

In mitigation, Loughran said Kong had withdrawn from the plan, albeit at a late stage.