A MERCHANT who was sent to prison for raping the maid of a friend with whom he was staying during a trip to Hong Kong had his conviction quashed yesterday. While holding that the conviction of Tangkao Sae-tang could not stand because the trial judge had given a serious misdirection to the jury, the Court of Appeal, however, ordered a retrial. Tangkao, 31, had denied raping the maid, 25, allegedly in the presence of his friend's two-year-old daughter, but was found guilty before Mr Justice Keith and was sentenced to five years' jail. The court heard that during a visit in February last year, he stayed in the Kowloon flat of a friend, a married man with four children. It was the Crown's case that on the morning of February 6, while only the maid and the two-year-old were at the flat, Tangkao went into the maid's room, grabbed her by the shoulder and kissed her. She resisted but Tangkao pushed away the little girl, who was holding on to the maid's legs, and forced himself on the woman. He gave her a laisee packet afterwards but she refused to accept it and she also managed to lock Tangkao into a room before making a report to the police. They were both later medically examined and the woman was found to have red patches and a streak on her thigh while some redness was also detected on Tangkao's upper abdomen. The doctor who examined them was of the view that the woman's injuries were consistent with her legs being forced apart and that Tangkao's redness could have been caused by being kicked or punched. Defence counsel on appeal, Christopher Grounds, contended that the doctor's opinion did not render his client's explanation, that his injury was caused by being assaulted by the police, either more or less likely. Delivering judgment for the court, Mr Justice Litton, sitting with Vice-President Mr Justice Macdougall and Mr Justice Bokhary, said an opinion remained an opinion, however eminent the person who expressed it. He said the trial judge had gone beyond the inference that could be drawn from the doctor's evidence. In his summing-up, the trial judge had told the jury that if they accepted the doctor's evidence, they might think Tangkao's injury was caused by being kicked by the woman. It was also capable of corroborating the woman's evidence that she had not given consent. Mr Justice Litton said since the issue of consent went to the heart of the case, what the trial judge said seemed to be a serious misdirection. It diminished Tangkao's explanation that his injury was caused by being pushed by the police.