Tragic trail that led to killings

THE chain of events that led to the deaths of the Korean hostage and his captor began on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront on the night of October 13.

Three young women were chatting by the water when Cheung Cho-yau, 23, approached and began flirting with them.

When they spurned his advances, Cheung became aggressive, ordering one of the women to jump into the harbour. When she refused, he pistol-whipped her. She fell to the ground, unconscious.

Her friends reported the attack. A few minutes later, a patrolling officer spotted Cheung walking up Canton Road and gave chase.

But the constable, who had not been told the suspect was armed, was caught off-guard when Cheung suddenly opened fire. The officer shot back, but missed.

Cheung escaped and took the MTR to Central, arriving at about 11.30 pm.

He went to Ice House Street, where he crept up on a patrolling officer and stole his revolver at gunpoint.

As police combed the area in search of the fugitive, Cheung grabbed 18-year-old Ku E-suen by the neck and forced her into a taxi.

But as he was pushing her into the back seat, Kang Sang-bo, 31, a handicapped Korean man, was getting in through the opposite door.

Cheung ordered taxi driver Ho Chun-ming, 40, to drive to Aberdeen, where he said a boat was waiting to take him to freedom.

He demanded Miss Ku's money, taking $1,600 from her purse. But he gave her back $100 when she asked him for her taxi fare home.

When they reached Aberdeen, the vehicle ran into a dead end. Cheung decided to abandon his hostages and try his luck on foot. But as he stepped from the taxi, he spotted policemen nearby.

Leaping back inside, he ordered Mr Ho to drive off again quickly.

The vehicle sped through Aberdeen, but was trapped by a roadblock near the waterfront.

Cheung scrambled across the two back-seat hostages, muttering angry threats at the police. He then fired out of the taxi window.

His bullet bounced harmlessly against a roadsign. But as the gunman prepared to fire again hostage Kang decided to act. He grabbed at Cheung's wrist, but his captor batted his hand aside, warning him not to be 'nosey'.

Kang made a second attempt for control of the gun. His hands locked around Cheung's wrist and the pair began grappling for control of the weapon.

Witnessing the struggle in the rear-view mirror, Mr Ho turned round and reached over to help, adding his hands to the battle.

Ms Ku took advantage of the confusion and fled.

A moment later, a gun was fired and a bullet smashed through the rear window.

Suddenly, Senior Inspector Cheung Chiu-ping appeared in the doorway and opened fire into the back seat.

Mr Ho said Kang's hands had stopped moving beneath his. As the driver fled the taxi, his hands were drenched in the Korean's blood.

Coroner's officer Dee Crebbin claimed the inspector then knocked Cheung's pistol from his hand and leaned into the back of the taxi to handcuff the two men together.

But Cheung - who had a second gun holstered to his side - was still alive, and fired a bullet through the inspector's arm.

The inspector took cover behind the taxi's rear bumper, leaping up to fire through the back window.

He said he took aim after seeing a flash of gunfire and a moving 'black shape'. When the figure continued to move, he fired a second shot.

Senior Inspector Cheung then retreated to a nearby shop to nurse his injury.

At this point, Constable Au Cheuk-yan closed in and tried to overpower the gunman by grabbing him by the throat.

But Cheung managed to fire his weapon, injuring the policeman in the shoulder.

Constable Au retaliated with five shots of his own. Three of them hit their mark, and were found embedded in the gunman's body. The officer retreated from the taxi.

Senior Inspector Cheung ordered officers in bullet-proof vests to approach the vehicle, and Constable Leung Kam-hung walked over to it and fired another shot into it.

He said he opened fire because he spotted a gun, and then saw Cheung's hand moving.

He withdrew from the taxi with Cheung's gun in his hand.

The dying men were dragged from the taxi, linked together by a pair of handcuffs.

They were then dumped, face down, on the pavement.

The handcuffs linking them were removed and replaced by two individual sets.

It was not until Kang was being loaded aboard an ambulance that it occurred to the officers that one of the handcuffed men may have been a hostage.