Accused murderer fit to stand trial, Hong Kong jury decides
After deliberating for six hours, a panel of six jurors decided that man accused of murdering 15-year-old girl had not let his acute psychosis get in the way of his High Court trial
An unemployed Hong Kong man accused of murdering a 15-year-old girl and having sex with her after her heart stopped beating is fit to stand trial.
After deliberating for six hours, a panel of six jurors decided that Lau Cheung-fai had not let his acute psychosis get in the way of his High Court trial, which began at the end of last year. It had not substantially affected his mind and hence he was still fit to make a plea.
The five men and a woman were sent away at 11.35am and returned with a decision at 5.30pm.
Mr Justice Kevin Zervos will empanel another jury for the trial.
Lau, 37, originally denied one count of murder. Prosecutors said the married man took Kwok Wai-ming, 15, to his Mong Kok home on December 8, 2014 supposedly for a private shooting session.
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But Lau ended up murdering Kwok, known as “Siu B”, as their conversation provoked his grudge against his past employer and colleagues, who used to tease him for his height, prosecutors said.
The graphic account he gave police, footage of which was played in court, included Lau wrapping her with plastic tape and sexually assaulting her with a Chinese wine bottle during a struggle at his home.
He had sex with her twice at the nearby Harbour Hotel – where he had wheeled her to in a suitcase – despite believing she no longer had a heartbeat.
But days into the trial, his barrister Michael Arthur raised that Lau was not fit to stand trial, as he had been suffering from delusions since Wednesday last week.
It was an opinion arrived at by two psychiatrists, who were defence witnesses, during the course of the trial, saying Lau was not fit. The court heard Lau claimed he had been thinking he was the “son of God” and that he was able to travel through time to fight God’s war.
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The defendant also heard a voice telling him to dismember the girl’s body, the court heard, but the “angels” within him prevented him from doing so.
The barrister said it was “wrong” for the trial to proceed due to Lau’s mental state.
But prosecutor Martyn Richmond countered, saying that a separate psychiatrist, who dedicated more time to Lau, suggested otherwise. “Based on all of the evidence, you may just find he is so capable,” he said.
The judge told them to decide whether Lau was fit to plea before sending them away for deliberation.
The court earlier heard evidence that after arriving at Lau’s home, the man struck Kwok repeatedly with a ketchup bottles for more than 10 times, as he bound her limbs, neck and head with ties and adhesive tape. He then sexually assaulted her, he told police officers calmly in a video interview.
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Forensic pathologist Dr Foo Ka-chung said straps were wrapped so tightly around Kwok’s neck that the plastic embedded into her skin and possibly killed her within minutes.
After finding her with no heartbeat, Lau then fit her into a case and wheeled her to the hotel, where he forced himself on her twice that day, he told police officers.
He returned to the hotel the next day to find a “smell” in the room, which reinforced his belief that she was dead. The killing was discovered after he disposed of the body in a nearby rubbish station, the staff of which alerted police, the court heard.