Man jailed for squeezing the life out of victim

A man was jailed for 91/2 years yesterday for 'squeezing the breath' out of his neighbour by standing on her throat.

A Court of First Instance jury found Lau Chuen-fat, 44, not guilty last week of the murder of Chau Siu-lee, 34, but guilty of manslaughter by reason of provocation.

Yesterday, as Mr Justice Michael Lunn jailed Lau over the killing - which happened on June 16 last year - he noted that Chau's provocation of Lau had been at the 'lower end of the scale'.

Lau showed no emotion during his sentencing.

The jury heard Lau had been drawn into a neighbourhood dispute. A friend and neighbour, Kwong Chau-kuk, banged on his door calling out for help, and saying Chau had gone crazy and was beating her.

Ms Kwong told the court the fight started when she walked past the communal kitchen area on the way to deliver her son's school lunch. She said Chau suddenly came at her, striking her on the hand and arm with a water pipe, as she tried to defend herself with an umbrella. Ms Kwong said she then ran into the village and roused a sleeping Lau to assist her.

Lau told the jury he had been angered when the noise outside woke him up, then was attacked by Chau with a stick when he opened the door.

During the struggle, Lau punched Chau twice in the face, causing her to fall to the ground.

She struck her head on the way down, on a wooden board which broke from the force of the impact.

Evidence suggested Chau was unconscious when Lau stood on her neck with his foot, twice - for several minutes in total. She died of asphyxia due to the pressure on her neck.

'Your response to the provocation ... was in the violence delivered to her, sustained over a period of a number of minutes as you squeezed her breath out of her and crushed her life,' Mr Justice Lunn said.

'Not content with having killed her, you removed her corpse from that place and carried it off into the dense undergrowth.

'There you submitted her body to the indignity of stripping it naked,' the judge said.