Alleged gunman Li Tak-yan was lonely, volatile but not mentally ill, court heard in 2012

Reports during trial for knife attack found Li had difficulty controlling his emotions and dealing with stress, but was not at high risk of committing another violent offence

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 June, 2014, 1:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 2:33am

Alleged Kowloon Bay gunman Li Tak-yan was a lonely person who had difficulty controlling his emotions and dealing with stress, but was not mentally ill, according to reports submitted to the court that convicted him two years ago of attacking a neighbour with a knife. 

While a District Court judge described Li's behaviour as “abnormal”, a psychologist found the risk of Li committing another violent offence was “not high”. He was jailed for a year.

On August 1, 2011, Li was jobless, divorced and living alone in the Long Bin temporary housing estate in Yuen Long. A neighbour leaving his apartment with his girlfriend found Li talking to himself in a corridor.

The court heard that Li had followed the couple downstairs to the building’s car park, where he quarrelled with them. When the neighbour tried to take a photo of him, Li took a knife from his bag and slashed at the neighbours hand. Li later said noise from the victim’s apartment had disturbed his sleep.

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A psychological report prepared for his trial said Li was a “lonely person with poor skills in handling stress”. The psychologist’s assessment was that Li had committed the offence because he found it difficult to control his emotions.

In a mitigation letter submitted to the court, Li's eldest daughter, who was 24 at the time, described him as a “good father”.

Li's lawyer said he had been badly affected by the collapse of his trading business, after the handover in 1997, and his marriage in 2010.

Li “was unable to accept such changes” and had no outlet for his frustrations “as he did not have many friends”, his barrister Flora Cheng Suk-Yee said according to the judgment.

Cheng added that Li was “truly remorseful” and had pleaded guilty to wounding.

Though two psychiatric examinations carried out in November 2011 concluded Li had no psychiatric illnesses, deputy district judge Cheang Kei-hong said Li's behaviour had been abnormal. In order to confirm that Li would not pose a threat to the public after serving his sentence, two more psychiatric examinations were ordered.

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Both also concluded Li was not suffering from a mental illness.

On Saturday night, a 43-year-old air-conditioner technician, Liu Kai-chung, was shot dead in the lift lobby near his home on the 21st floor of Lok Ching House in Kowloon Bay.

The shooting sparked a 12-hour drama, which ended when elite police used stun grenades and tear gas to storm Li’s flat. They found him fatally wounded with a gun by his side; he was later declared dead at a nearby hospital.

Li was born in Hunan in 1963 and came to Hong Kong in 1980. He was married in Hunan in 1987. His wife and daughter joined him in Hong Kong in 1992 and his second daughter was born in 1995. He lived a happy life at the time, his barrister said in 2012.

In 1995 and 1997, he was convicted of illegal gambling and was fined HK$200 and HK$500 respectively.

He was forced to abandon a job as a chef after his left hand was injured in a robbery, according to court documents. The date of that incident was not provided.

His trading business deteriorated from 1997, which he said led to his marriage falling apart. He was divorced in 2010 and he moved into the Yuen Long interim housing estate to live alone.

Correction: An earlier version of this article gave the name of the alleged gunman as Lee Tak-yan, the name released by police on Sunday. On Monday evening, police confirmed that the suspect's name is Li Tak-yan.