An ailing philanthropist was cleared yesterday of any negligence over the death of a former employee who tripped and suffered fatal injuries on a pre-dawn walk. The defunct company of 87-year-old Zai Chung-ling, Wishing Long Hong, was being sued for $3.85 million over the death of his personal secretary, Cheung Chung-wai, 46. Cheung's widow Wong Kit-chun alleged the firm did not provide enough torches for the walkers. But in the Court of First Instance yesterday, Deputy Judge Susan Kwan rejected her claim. 'It seems to me unlikely that the deceased would not have tripped over even if he had been holding a torch,' Deputy Judge Kwan said, adding that the pre-dawn walk in the Huangshan scenic area in Anhui province without a torch was not inherently dangerous. Mr Cheung stumbled over a 10cm-wide ditch on the granite path on October 25, 1993. He died from neck injuries three weeks later. 'I accept that the path was not easy and that one must be careful in walking on it especially before daybreak,' the judge said. 'However, I do not think conditions were so dark that one could not see the path.' Mr Zai, the ex-chairman of Yan Chai Hospital, did not give evidence as he is suffering dementia. Ms Wong was ordered to pay his costs.