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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong man, 56, who slashed neighbour repeatedly with meat cleaver escapes jail term due to ‘delusional disorder’

Instead, the court imposed a 12-month hospital order recommended by psychiatrists, who said the man’s mental condition led him to believe his mainland-born wife was having sex with the neighbour

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 February, 2018, 3:55pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 February, 2018, 11:02pm

A Hong Kong construction worker who clobbered and slashed his neighbour on suspicion that the lovemaking sounds coming from next door belonged to his mainland-born wife received a 12-month hospital order instead of jail on Monday.

The District Court heard two psychiatrists recommended the sentence after finding that Choi Hing-fai, 56, was suffering from a delusional disorder that led him to believe that his wife was having an affair with the neighbour.

The violent assault with a beer bottle, meat cleaver and hammer on June 17 last year sent the neighbour, surnamed Chan, to hospital for eight days. He has since fully recovered.

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The court heard the two men were living in subdivided flats in a To Kwa Wan factory building. They were not well-acquainted, and Choi did not know if Chan was married.

On June 15, 2017, Choi barged into Chan’s flat and accused his neighbour of sleeping with his wife. Two days later, he stormed into Chan’s flat with an empty beer bottle. When he did not see his wife, he smashed the bottle on Chan’s head and left, returning to his flat to take a chopper.

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He then chased after Chan and slashed the man’s chest and shoulder. When the chopper fell to the ground, he returned home to take a hammer and continued attacking Chan, but then abruptly stopped and called the police.

When he was arrested, Choi told officers that he and his wife got married in December 2016 but she went missing just three months later.

He suspected his wife of having an extramarital affair after hearing lovemaking noises – that resembled sounds his wife made – from Chan’s flat.

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Choi pleaded guilty last month to one count of wounding. He had a previous conviction for assault, for which he was fined HK$2,000 and ordered to compensate his victim.

His counsel Joe Lam said in mitigation that the present offence was committed under the influence of alcohol and Choi’s psychiatric condition.

“He became very sad because his wife left him, so he drank more,” the counsel said. “But he was not aware of his psychiatric problem.”

Pre-sentencing psychiatric reports recommended a hospital order of nine to 12 months.

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Judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen noted the victim suffered considerable injuries but he accepted that Choi’s maniacal attack was a result of his mental condition, that impaired his self-control and judgment.

“[A hospital order of] nine to 12 months is just and appropriate to the seriousness of the case as well as the defendant’s rehabilitation,” the judge said.

“This is what our society expects.”