A tormented husband responsible for a fatal arson attack on a couple who were making his life a misery fainted in the dock when his appeal against a murder conviction was rejected yesterday. Lai Kip-kie, 29, took the law into his own hands after being driven crazy by a two-year persecution campaign which the police had failed to curb, the court heard. Even the mother of one of his victims, Law Fung, 72, wept and protested against the Court of Appeal's decision. Ms Fung's son and daughter-in-law, both 32, died in the blaze, started by a hitman Lai had hired. But she joined his weeping relatives in court, saying: 'It is an outrage these two young men should have their lives ruined by going to prison.' Lai gave his wife a last kiss through the bars of the dock before being helped to the cells by prison officers. He was jailed for life in June last year along with the contract killer, Yu Kwok-keung, 22. Both were found guilty of murder. John Griffiths QC, their barrister, argued that the convictions should be quashed. He said the judge at Lai's trial had not allowed the jury to consider whether he had been provoked. A family feud led to Cheuk Kwai-keung and his wife Wong Ching-to launching a campaign of harassment aimed at getting money out of Lai and his relatives. Mr Griffiths said Lai, related to Cheuk by marriage, and his wife were forced to move from their home in a bid to escape the demands. Insulting slogans had been daubed over their Tuen Mun flat and Lai's wife had urine and faeces poured over her by Wong, the court heard. Lai's mother-in-law, wife and sister were repeatedly assaulted. Mr Griffiths said Lai reported between 20 and 30 incidents to the police but was told there was not enough evidence to take any action. He even wrote to his urban councillor. The last straw came when Lai found himself charged with wounding after a confrontation with Wong. Mr Griffiths said Lai snapped under the immense stress of the 'mental torture' and hired Yu to take action against his tormentors. It was not until four months later, in September 1995, that Yu set fire to the victims' flat after locking them inside. They died from smoke inhalation. Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary accepted there was evidence of 'outrageous persecution' suffered by Lai. But provocation was no defence to the murder because Lai had not acted in the heat of the moment and had even haggled with the hitman over the $150,000 fee. The judge said: 'These killings were in cold blood by the hand of a paid arsonist and assassin.' Yu's appeal against conviction, on the basis of comments made by the prosecutor during the trial, also failed.