A sacked fireman unable to cope with being unemployed killed his wife and 11-year-old son to spare them 'this horrible and terrible world', a court was told yesterday. Yip Wai-sun, 34, battered his wife with a hammer as she slept and then suffocated her with a pillow, the Court of First Instance heard. He left her body in the bed while he collected their son from school, telling him not to disturb his mother. But the next day Yip killed the boy in the same way, and tried to gas himself two days later. He wept when jailed for five years yesterday after the prosecution accepted his pleas of guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. John McNamara, defending, said Yip had been a 'model middle-class citizen' who had worked as a fireman for 11 years. But when he lost his job and faced eviction from married quarters, Yip was overwhelmed by financial and emotional problems. 'His agony mounted and he could not cope. He didn't want to trouble his parents or brothers. He became ashamed to seek help from friends and spent more and more time at home, brooding, drinking and thinking what a miserable existence he had,' said Mr McNamara. In a state of desperation and depression, Yip had decided the only solution was to take his own life. But he had also decided to kill his wife, Hung Mei-kei, 34, and son, Yip Shing-fung. 'He believed they would have to suffer enormously after his death. He thought they would be spared the anguish if they died with him,' said Mr McNamara. 'He thought he was doing them a favour by removing them from this horrid and terrible world.' Yip would feel guilty for the rest of his life over what he had done, but he posed no danger to the public. Prosecutor Wayne Moultrie said the killings were discovered when one of Yip's neighbours at Fire Service married quarters in Lei Muk Shue noticed a strong smell of gas on April 25 last year. When firemen entered the flat, they found Yip lying unconscious in the kitchen with a severed gas pipe on his face. The bodies of his wife and child were in their beds. Yip lost his job in late 1995 because he had been convicted of criminal damage, a crime he claims he did not commit. Mr Justice Michael Wong Kin-chow said the case was a tragedy, but added that the law 'does not excuse anyone who kills people because of excessive stress'. After the hearing, Detective Senior Inspector Siu Man-hon said Yip had told police his financial problems began when he had an affair and spent a great deal of money on his mistress.