Body of Canadian found in toilet

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2011, 12:00am


Distraught relatives were last night trying to come to terms with the death of University of Hong Kong student Joseph 'Joey' Basha after it emerged that his body was found slumped in a public toilet near his home, 48 hours before he was reported missing.

Friends and family were informed of his death only yesterday - four days after they told police Basha was missing and six days after his body was found in Yau Ma Tei, a 20-minute walk from his flat in Jordan.

Basha's sister Jacqueline Berenson, a forensic psychiatrist, and her husband, Alex Berenson, a novelist and former New York Times journalist, arrived from New York on Monday night with plans to search the city's hospitals.

'Jacky's in terrible shape right now,' Alex Berenson said yesterday.

Jacqueline Berenson declined to comment, but her younger sister, Cindy Basha, reported the news of their brother's death on Facebook.

'I regret to say that my brother, my beautiful, talented, sweet brother, was found dead,' her notice read. 'My brother, my best friend and hero, was found last Wednesday ... My brother was so loved and had such a significant impact on all of those who knew him. This was such a tremendous loss for us all.'

Basha, a 25-year-old Canadian who had been living in Hong Kong for three years, was found by a cleaner around noon on Wednesday in a public toilet in Market Street, Yau Ma Tei. Paramedics declared him dead at the scene.

Basha was last seen by his flatmate, Dino Lee, groggy and disorientated at 2.30am that day at their home in Tak Hing Street, Jordan.

Friends reported him missing on Friday after Basha, usually a compulsive caller, had missed several engagements and could not be reached.

Police declined to say why they did not make a connection sooner between the body being found on Wednesday and reports of his disappearance filed on Friday.

Basha's friends and family had spent four days scouring the city for information, sharing leads on Facebook, spreading the word of his disappearance and canvassing the streets with his photograph.

Police said an autopsy had been performed but they were waiting for the results of toxicology tests that can take weeks to complete. Basha was found with no ID and his wallet and phone were missing.

Police are not considering foul play but say the case is still under investigation.

Originally from Newfoundland, Basha moved to Hong Kong in 2008. This year he started studying at the University of Hong Kong for a master's degree in international and public affairs.

His friends knew him mostly for his love of music. He was active in the local music scene as the guitarist and lead singer of indie band Milkteeth. The band played recently at Clockenflap, the harbourfront music festival held in West Kowloon.

Basha's father, a Vietnam war veteran, lives in Florida, while his mother is based in St Johns, Newfoundland.