'Greedy' and 'despicable' barrister jailed for faking teacher's will

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 December, 2013, 5:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 December, 2013, 5:29am

A barrister who tried to use a fake will to claim ownership of a dead calligraphy teacher's estate was jailed for 4-1/2 years in the District Court yesterday.

Wong kwai-sang, 51, was described as "greedy" and "despicable" by Judge Pang Chung-ping for using his professional knowledge to try to obtain a flat owned by Au Shu-cham at Sai Yuen Lane in Western district.

The court heard that Wong submitted the bogus will to the High Court in July 2009, less than a month after Au's death.

"It is obvious that Wong did not commit the offence out of momentary greed … It was a well-planned scam," the judge said.

Wong had said he suffered from mental illnesses including schizophrenia and psychosis. But the judge did not accept that this had affected his state of mind in carrying out the crime, since the scam had been so well planned.

"Wong will most likely be disqualified as a lawyer after the conviction. It is a consequence of his greed and he can blame nobody else," the judge said.

Au sold the flat to his godson, Cheung Wai-ming, for HK$1 million in May 1997, after which Cheung allowed Au to live in the flat for free for 12 years.

Prior to Au's death from natural causes in July 2009, several of Au's calligraphy students - including Wong's sister, who had been studying with Au since 1986 - had also been living in the flat together with Au.

A month after Au's death, Wong tried to claim that, through the law of adverse possession, ownership of the flat had reverted to Au on the grounds that Au had lived there for years without paying anything. Wong then submitted the fake will claiming Au had agreed on June 16, 2009 to name Wong as the executor of his estate and Wong's sister as the sole beneficiary.

After Au died, Wong also withdrew HK$15,400 from Au's bank account.

Cheung was in court yesterday to hear the sentence. He said he was glad to see "justice has been done".

Wong was convicted of nine charges, including using a false instrument, making a false oath to the court, and theft.

The Bar Association said it would not comment on individual cases, but any barrister convicted of a criminal offence could face disciplinary proceedings.