Man arrested after his stepmother was hacked to death in Hong Kong flat

Woman almost decapitated in Tsuen Wan flat; victim’s son and injured friend escape alive

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 1:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 10:29am

A murder suspect believed to be mentally unsound was arrested at around midnight last night after his stepmother was nearly decapitated and a housemate wounded at their home in Tsuen Wan.

Sandesh Lawati, a 21-year-old of Nepalese origin, was found in the same New Territories district – 17 hours after the body of his stepmother was discovered by police officers on the fifth floor of Yan Oi Building, in Chuen Lung Street,  just after 6am yesterday.

Dewaki Limbu, 42, was found dead in the kitchen of the flat where Lawati, his stepmother, father and seven-year-old half-brother lived with two female friends.

“[Limbu] suffered multiple knife wounds to the head, neck, arms and back,” a police source said. “Her neck was badly chopped and she was almost beheaded.”

One of the women sharing the flat, also 42, suffered head and arm injuries and was in stable condition at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung last night. She was said to have escaped the flat after being attacked, taking the seven-year-old with her.

Police launched a manhunt and issued two photographs of Lawati. One of them comes from a surveillance camera and shows him walking downstairs after the attack.

Officers were dispatched to the scene after receiving a report at about 6.45am of an argument and an assault taking place in the flat.

“Investigations show the victim was attacked in the kitchen at about 6.15am,” said Tsuen Wan assistant district commander Superintendent Eric Ho Chun-chung.

“Her friend was woken up and tried to stop the attack, but was injured and ran out of the flat.”

Officers found the friend in the building. She had carried the suspect’s seven-year-old half-brother out as she fled, police said. The father of the family, who were said to have moved to Hong Kong from Nepal in 1996, was not at home at the time.

Two curved knives and a fruit knife were found at the scene.

The motive behind the attack was unknown, but Ho said police believed the suspect had emotional and mental problems that may have triggered the violence.

A second police source said: “His family told police he appeared to have been possessed by evil spirits and received treatment in Nepal … years ago.”

Lawati has no record of mental illness in Hong Kong, the source said. Nor were there previous police reports of domestic violence involving the family.
It was understood that Lawati behaved normally as the family dined at home on Sunday night.

Lawati was unarmed when he left the building.

There were 13 homicide reports in the first half of this year, police figures show. Last month, a construction worker was arrested on suspicion of killing his brother in a row over a HK$100 taxi fare at their Kwun Tong flat.