Helper cleared of killing employers
A male Filipino domestic helper accused of murdering his employers eight years ago walked free yesterday after he was acquitted by a Hong Kong jury.
Magno Cruz Manalili was deported back to the Philippines after the seven-member jury, following two days of deliberation, unanimously declared him not guilty of killing Ng Ka-mong and Sun King-man, both aged 54, in April 2003.
The couple were secondary school history teachers, and Sun was the daughter of the former head of Chinese University's faculty of arts, historian Sun Kuo-tong, a leading scholar in the university's early years.
In the dock, Manalili seemed overwhelmed by emotion after hearing the verdict. He pumped his fists and folded his hands before breaking down in tears.
Relatives and friends of both the defendant and the deceased also burst into tears.
Manalili was arrested in the Philippines in December 2003, but extradited to Hong Kong only in June last year. Yesterday he was deported immediately after the jury's acquittal, which cannot be overturned under criminal law procedures.
But a friend of Sun and Ng insisted the case was not over. 'Justice has not been seen. The case has not been closed,' he said. He did not elaborate, saying that more legal advice was needed before a decision was made.
The Department of Justice said the evidence presented should have resulted in a guilty verdict.
'We are disappointed by the decision of the jury,' a spokeswoman said.
Police did not comment on the verdict.
Officials of the Philippine consulate, who attended the trial, refused to answer any questions.
Sun and Ng were killed in April 2003 in their Sha Tin home. Police found the bodies after being alerted by Sun's brother, Suen Wai-mo, who said the couple had failed to return calls all day.
Ng and Sun were found to have been stabbed 10 and eight times respectively, the court heard.
The day after the killings, Manalili was seen leaving Pai Tau village with a rucksack. Manalili's wife said he called her before flying to the Philippines later that day and told her that he had killed the couple. But in police interviews he later denied the killings, the court heard.
Before the second day of deliberation, Madam Justice Clare-Marie Beeson advised the jury to determine how reliable the wife's testimony was when pursuing a verdict. The wife had denied she came forward to the court in the hope of receiving a government reward worth HK$400,000.
Manalili was employed by Sun and Ng in 1999 and was paid HK$4,000 a month. It has been said that he was debt ridden at the time of the couple's murder.
The number of Filipinos who leave the country to work each year
- Around 140,000 are domestic workers in Hong Kong