Hong Kong man jailed two years for setting paralysed wife on fire

Noting that case should be treated sympathetically, judge passes lenient sentence while stressing that arson is serious crime

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 2:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 8:05pm

A 61-year-old man who set his paralysed wife alight during a row over his unfaithfulness was jailed two years by the High Court on Wednesday despite having won a judge’s sympathy and his wife’s forgiveness.

Upon hearing the sentence, Wong Yun-cheong, who had pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, looked calm and waved to his relatives attending the trial before he was escorted out of the courtroom.

The court earlier heard that the retired waiter had poured turpentine over the upper body of his wife, Cheung Yin-ha, and set her alight in their flat in Po Lam public housing estate in Tseung Kwan O last year.

Paralysed woman set on fire by cheating husband begs Hong Kong court to show him mercy

The attack came after the couple argued over his extramarital affair , which had taken place in the past. Wong doused the flames after hearing his wife scream in pain and called police.

Cheung, who lives on welfare, is still receiving medical treatment in hospital.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Albert Wong Sung-hau stated that Wong had been forgiven by his wife, who wanted him to come home soon to take care of her.

“It’s a tragedy. The case should be treated sympathetically ... but the court doesn’t want to send a wrong message to society,” the judge said of the deciding factors for a lenient sentence.

He stressed that arson was a serious crime and that the husband’s cruelty did inflict harm on his wife.

Cheung, who suffered a stroke about 12 years ago that paralysed the left side of her body, was left with second- and third-degree burns covering 16 per cent of her body.

“[The husband] committed a grave mistake,” the judge stated.

But he found that the long-time caregiver, who had been unhappy about his wife losing trust in him and about the hardships he had suffered in taking care of the sick and frustrated woman on his own, had expressed regret for the attack.

The couple depended on no one but each other, the judge said.

“It’s in [Cheung’s] best interests if her husband can take care of her again as soon as possible,” he added.

The father of two was given two years’ jail – 60 per cent less time than the starting point of five years for the usual sentence in such cases.

Outside court, Wong’s son said he would spend more time with his parents in future.