An eight-member High Court jury could not reach a verdict yesterday after nine-and-a-half hours of deliberation on charges against Peter Chan Chun-chuen of forgery and using a false document. Chan is accused of forging the will of late tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum.
The Court of First Instance jury of five men and three women will resume their consideration when they return to the jury room at 9.30 am today.
Chan has pleaded not guilty to forging the will which he used unsuccessfully to claim Wang's HK$83 billion estate as the sole beneficiary. He also denied using a false document.
He used the will in a drawn-out probate battle with the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which Wang established. Once Asia's richest woman, Wang died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 69. The jurors began their effort to decide Chan's fate at about 11.15am yesterday after the judge concluded the criminal trial, which started on May 24 and spanned 30 court days. They retired at about 8.40pm.
Mr Justice Andrew Macrae directed the jurors that only a unanimous verdict or a 7-1 or 6-2 majority vote would be accepted. He said they would need to return to the judge for further direction if they reached a 5-3 or split vote. The jury had to spend the night in accommodation provided by the judiciary and the judge told them not to talk about the case during their rest.
"Don't discuss the case, because the essence of the jury system is that you should reach the verdict when you are in the jury room, when the usher is outside," he said.
The jury was also not allowed to communicate with the outside world without permission from the judge.
The court heard that the jurors had asked to look at the allegedly fake will and a draft of it as they deliberated.
During their deliberation, Chan was ordered by the judge not to leave the court building.
He was released on bail after the jury retired.
Emerging from a courtroom packed with reporters, Chan, with a stern face and his shoulders drawn together, did not say whether he was confident about the result. "Thank you, thank you," he said.
Chan, who recently renounced fung shui and converted to Christianity, said he prayed while he waited for the verdict.
He was accompanied by his wife, Tam Miu-ching, his brother Ricky Chan Chun-kwok, his out-of-wedlock daughter Polly Lon Pui-chun and Pastor Enoch Lam Yee-lok.
He said he had rice with roast meat for lunch and a McDonald's filet-o-fish, chicken McNuggets and a Coke at dinner.
During the trial, the court was served salacious details of the relationship between Wang and Chan.
The court was shown a video recording supplied by Chan showing Wang and himself locking lips and his hands running all over her body.
The court also heard Chan's claim that he had had a passionate sexual relationship with Wang, who was 23 years his senior.