The father of a family of four who were killed and buried in a New Territories village last year was stabbed 79 times, his wife and two daughters were bound and gagged and one daughter was put in a nylon bag, a court heard yesterday. The allegations were made on the first day of the trial of the father's cousin, Xu Shengqi, 43, who was charged with four counts of murder. Xu, a decorator from the mainland who had been in Hong Kong on a seven-day, two-way permit at the time of the killings on July 5 last year, pleaded not guilty in the Court of First Instance to all counts. He admits killing the four, but not murdering them. The bodies of Tam Shing-fai, 43, his wife Helen Tong Yan-yee, 34, and their two daughters, Tam Hiu-man, 10, and Tam Hiu-ying, seven, were excavated from a pit that had been covered in concrete in the courtyard of their house in Ping Che village. Opening the prosecution's case, Peter Chapman said a postmortem examination found Tam Shing-fai was stabbed more than 60 times in the abdomen, nine times in the head and neck, three in his upper limbs and seven times in his lower limbs. His wife and daughters were bound and gagged with various items, including tape and yellow cable, Chapman said. The younger daughter was placed in a nylon bag. Tong was found with a white vest stuffed in her mouth, and her head was wrapped in a woollen jacket, followed by a plastic bag, and bound with adhesive tape and cable. Tong had cuts on the fingers of her right hand consistent with defence injuries, and a cut on her head that appeared to have been from a struggle. Tam died of multiple stab wounds, his wife and Hiu-ying of suffocation, and Hiu-man of ligature strangulation. Chapman said Xu had been coming to Hong Kong regularly since 2002. He stayed with an uncle in the village near Tam's family, and worked on renovations on the family's home. In a re-enactment of what had occurred, Xu indicated he stabbed Tam after Tam struck at him, Chapman said. Then he tied and gagged Tong and the children, and dragged the four bodies into the pit. Xu made several attempts to withdraw money using Tong's bank cards after he killed the family, he said. The bodies were found after colleagues of the couple called them when they did not turn up for work the next day, a Monday. 'The family was dug up in 36 hours. The prosecution says they were only found so quickly because of Tam's and Helen Tong's colleagues,' Chapman said. He said a number of calls to the couple's phones were answered by a man speaking with an accent, who claimed the family had gone to Dongguan . Someone reported the matter to the police. Police arrested Xu after he was seen near the house. They found a significant amount of cash in his possession and bloodstains on a wall. Xu told them he helped with renovations on the house and had completed the concrete work in the courtyard that morning, the court heard. Xu offered various defences in interviews with police, including that Tam had provoked him and attempted to strike him, that he had been acting in self-defence, and that he had killed the family by accident. The trial continues today before Mr Justice Derek Pang Wai-cheong.