Suspect 'waited on roof to set fire'

Court told fatal blaze was started when man's ex-mistress returned with new lover

A married man waited on the roof of his ex-mistress's apartment building until she came home with her new lover, then climbed down the outside of the building, broke into the flat and set a fire that killed the couple, a court heard yesterday.

Charles Cheung Kang-chau, 35, allegedly blocked the front door to make it virtually impossible for Fok Yuk-chun, 38, and Li Wing-on, 45, to escape, prosecutor Michael Arthur told the Court of First Instance.

Mr Arthur said that when firefighters broke into Fok's flat, the bodies were burned beyond recognition. Minutes earlier, the pair had made frantic calls for help from the room, the court heard.

Cheung has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.

Mr Arthur said that although the relationship between Cheung and Fok had ended in 2001, he could not accept that it was over. Late in the evening of August 22, 2002, Cheung bought wine and went to Fok's 21st-floor flat in Tuen Mun only to find she was not home. He then went to the rooftop to wait, the court heard. He did not notice when they returned at 2am but heard them later when he went to her front door, it was alleged.

Feeling aggrieved, Cheung embarked on a 'series of deliberate actions which led directly to the deaths of Ms Fok and Mr Li', Mr Arthur said.

He said Cheung left a bottle of kerosene in front of Fok's door, then returned to the roof and tied a chopper to a piece of string, dangling it over the side of the building so it was just outside the kitchen window. He then climbed down to the 21st floor and used the chopper to open the window, Mr Arthur said.

Once inside, he retrieved the kerosene and started a fire outside the bedroom door while Fok and Li were inside, the court heard.

'He lit the fire in such a position to make it difficult and if not impossible, for the people inside the bedroom to leave,' Mr Arthur said. 'He must have known that if he lit that fire he would have killed them or caused them serious injuries.'

Cheung left by the front door, only to run into a suspicious watchman who asked him to follow him down to the lobby, he said.

'As they were going down [in the lift], the defendant knew he had started a fire in the apartment but he said nothing about the fire to the watchman,' he said.

Once in the lobby, Cheung told the watchman he needed to go upstairs to get Fok to vouch for him. When he arrived upstairs, he placed a metal pipe in the grille of the door, Mr Arthur said.

'The effect was to trap them inside the apartment,' he said, adding that Cheung denied putting the pipe there.

Cheung fled the building but ran into police officers at 9.34am.

'He said nothing to the police about the fire - that was an opportunity lost to save Ms Fok and Mr Li,' Mr Arthur said.

The case continues tomorrow before Mrs Justice Verina Bokhary.