Chop killer had just left hospital

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2012, 12:00am


A psychiatric patient who killed a security guard yesterday had visited a public hospital just three hours earlier.

The guard was nearly decapitated in the frenzied chopper attack in Sheung Shui.

The 53-year-old man left North District Hospital after the consultation at 4.15am.

He was a patient at the hospital's psychiatric wing and required regular consultations and treatment. His last consultation was on January 3.

Police said he had also been involved in six reported domestic disputes, some involving violence, in the past two years.

According to a police report, the man's son took him to the accident and emergency department because 'he was not in good shape'.

A Hospital Authority statement issued on behalf of North District Hospital said the man complained of coughing, breathing difficulties and being unable to sleep.

He was examined and diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, given cough medicine and allowed to leave at 4.40am.

He was emotionally stable and his conversation was normal.

About an hour after the killing in Choi Wah House, Choi Yuen Estate, at 7.30am, he was taken back to the same hospital and found to be suffering hallucinations. Last night he was being treated at Castle Peak mental hospital in Tuen Mun.

Lawmaker Wong Sing-chi said he was surprised the hospital where the man was treated was unaware of his pre-existing mental condition during the consultation.

'The public hospital has long been understaffed,' he said. 'I am concerned that doctors in the same hospital where he had been treated for mental problems might have overlooked his records because they were rushed or because they underestimated his illness,' Wong said.

Psychiatric specialist Dr Ting Sik-chuen said doctors in emergency wards might not be aware that a patient was suffering from mental problems if he did not show symptoms. He said patient records could not be retrieved without a reason.

'Patients' rights are protected by a privacy law,' Ting said. 'Doctors need to justify access to mental illness records and the A&E doctors would not have such a reason unless they strongly suspected patients were suffering mental problems.'

The victim, security guard Lee Kai-kwong, 57, was alone in the second-floor guard post of Choi Wah House at 7.30am while his colleague was on patrol.

'Preliminary investigations indicate the culprit surfaced suddenly and attacked the guard,' chief inspector Albert Tong Yiu-chung, of Tai Po district crime squad, said.

'The guard put up a struggle and his right hand was injured. He managed to run off and fled downstairs, but was caught on the ground-floor staircase and chopped.'

He was found by his colleague when returned to the guard post. He had seen the brutal attack on the closed-circuit television system and called police. Lee was lying in a pool of blood, having sustained multiple chop wounds, and was declared dead by paramedics at the scene.

'He was nearly decapitated,' one police officer said. After the attack, the man returned home to his wife and three adult sons, leaving a trail of bloody footprints.

Police said his son saw him carrying a chopper, found blood on his clothes and disarmed him. Officers arrested him at his home.

North district council chairman So Sai-chi demanded the relevant authorities release the number of mental patients living on the estate and detail what assistance and treatment the government was providing.

He said security guards should be alerted.

'Putting people suffering mental illness in the community is just like placing landmines,' he said. 'Residents could easily step on them if they do not know the situation.'

Grim history

October 2011

A man with a history of mental illness is charged after a series of chopping attacks in Tseung Kwan O.

August 2010

A female mental patient cuts off her mother's head and jumps to her death in Wong Tai Sin Estate.

May 2010

A male mental patient in Kwai Shing East Estate kills two strangers and injures three more with a sword.

A male mental patient in Hung Hom attacks a shopkeeper and her husband with a corrosive liquid after an argument. All three suffer burns.

A man with a mental-health record stabs and injures a couple in Sheung Shui after taking drugs.

April 2010

A middle-aged man with mental problems attacks his parents at home with a kitchen knife. The parents survive.

June 2009

A woman who lives alone in Tai O is stabbed to death in her home by a neighbour who has mental-health problems, and against whom she has made several complaints about being harassed.

May 2009

A father and son are stabbed by a male neighbour in a playground in Shum Shui Po. The son dies from his injuries, while the father survives.

March 2009

A 40-year-old woman attacks four passers-by with an iron bar and wooden poles in To Kwa Wan.

December 2007

A 48-year-old man stabs and injures two girls on their way to school on an estate in Mong Kok.

October 2007

A 36-year-old woman who suffers from mental problems throws her son and daughter off her building in Tin Shiu Wan then jumps to her death.

A 25-year-old Indian sailor stabs a female patient while waiting in the Princess Margaret Hospital emergency ward. The woman later dies.