Hong Kong judge to decide whether to place mentally disabled man under guardianship order in hostel death case

He says he will take into consideration public interest and welfare of the man, who was found to have killed another mentally disabled resident

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 7:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 10:23pm

A High Court judge will decide whether a 68-year-old man with the mental age of a young child should be put under a guardianship order after a jury unanimously found that he killed another mentally disabled man by pushing the victim over during a row.

Mr Justice Kevin Zervos is ­expected to give direction on February 21, pending additional reports on Cheung Kam-yau’s mental condition and social life.

The judge said he would take into consideration Cheung’s welfare and the public interest.

His statements came after a seven-member jury determined on Tuesday that Cheung “did the act” – the manslaughter of 68-year-old Yiu Keung-shing in April last year at the Christian Family Service Centre, where both men had been long-term residents.

The jury found a day earlier that Cheung, who napped through most of the time in the court sessions, was unfit to stand trial due to his mental disability. The jurors were then told to consider only whether the man had committed the act.

Hong Kong hostel dispute ended in death, jury hears

CCTV footage of the incident on April 3 last year showed Cheung standing facing his ­bedroom door, before walking over to Yiu and pushing him onto the floor, causing him to hit his head. Yiu was taken to hospital after the incident, and died almost three weeks later from head injuries caused by blunt force trauma, a pathology report showed.

The pair had a row before Cheung pushed Yiu over, prosecution lawyer Richard Donald told the court. “What the argument was about we will never know,” he added.

The court heard both men had a level of intelligence similar to that of a four year old, and communicated in single words or simple sentences, but there was no evidence of previous fights ­between them – or of either of them being violent, Donald said.

With 50 residents, disputes arose occasionally at the hostel, manager Cheuk Wing-yi said.

Edwin Choy, representing Cheung, questioned whether there was sufficient proof to show the actions of his client had caused the death.

After the verdict was given, Zervos said he would decide whether Cheung should be put under a guardianship order or discharged. “I’m very conscious of his background,” the judge said, noting that Cheung’s life was like that of a young child.

He said he needed to know what effect a guardianship order would have on the man, who had been under full-time care for years.