Abused wife who beat husband to death with hammer cleared of murder

Woman who snapped after years of abuse cleared of murdering husband but convicted of manslaughter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2012, 4:14am

A woman who beat her husband to death with a hammer, after years of an unhappy arranged marriage, was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for six years yesterday.

The jury at the Court of First Instance found cleaner Liu Chui-fa, 44, not guilty by a 6-to-1 verdict of murdering her husband Cheung Chok-choi, a fishmonger. The same majority found her guilty of manslaughter by reason of provocation.

Liu, an Indonesian-Chinese, battered her partner of 20 years to death in their flat in Fanling on August 22 last year after he threw away her possessions and made a profane comment about her mother.

The court had earlier heard Liu was abandoned as a child, later raped and subjected to domestic violence, and had tried to commit suicide.

Defence lawyer Lawrence Poots yesterday told the court that Liu suffered from an adjustment disorder years ago, but had recovered.

Mr Justice Peter Line said Liu's tragic background was not a defence for killing her husband.

He passed a sentence of six years' imprisonment, taking into consideration case law indicating manslaughter of this kind normally attracted a jail term of between six and nine years.

The court had heard that Liu was abandoned by her parents in Indonesia as a baby and was adopted by a farming family living in a small village in a forest.

Her stepfather raped her when she was a teenager. At 17, she jumped off a building after her parents ordered her to marry someone she did not love.

Liu met Cheung when relatives took her to Hong Kong for matchmaking interviews. Although she didn't like Cheung, she married him a week after they met because she had spent a lot of money in travelling to the city.

Over the years, Cheung beat her in disputes over money. They normally slept in separate rooms and even different flats, with their sons describing the relationship as more like a business deal.

On the day of the killing, Cheung demanded Liu clear her belongings out of the Fanling flat as he had decided to move back in.

Cheung grabbed her by the neck from behind, choking her, to force her to dump possessions, including some plants, the court heard.

Liu told police that she potted the plants for her stepmother because she had been unable to give her flowers on Mother's Day. She became enraged when Cheung made a profane reference to her mother's genitals.

When Cheung knelt in front of her, she picked up the hammer and delivered a flurry of heavy blows to his head.