“$1m paid for kidnap victim,” ran a headline in the South China Morning Post on October 2, 1982. “The nine-year-old son of the managing director of Hopewell Holdings Ltd, Mr Gordon Wu, who was kidnapped on Thursday [September 30], has been reunited with his family,” the story said.
The kidnapping involved six people, including the family’s chauffeur, Lau Wing-cheong, who was driving the child – Wu’s eldest son, Thomas Wu Man-sun – home for lunch at about 1pm when their car was intercepted by a white Mitsubishi.
“Two men jumped out of the Mitsubishi and got into Mr Wu’s car. One punched the chauffeur and the other covered the boy’s face with a chloroform-soaked towel […] the boy was then bundled into [a white] van which was driven across the tunnel to Kowloon,” the Post reported on October 4.
On the day of the abduction, Gordon Wu Ying-sheung received a phone call at his villa in Jardine’s Lookout at 6pm, demanding HK$2 million “for the safe return of his son”. Wu paid HK$1.5 million – not the HK$1 million first reported by the Post – and the boy was freed, 12 hours after being taken, with the kidnappers giving him HK$100 for his taxi fare home.
By mid-November, detectives had recovered HK$1.2 million from safe deposit boxes in two banks in Kowloon and by December, the gang involved in the kidnapping had been arrested. A Post story dated March 17, 1983, reported that “[the kidnappers’] initial plan was to take Mrs Wu to a quiet hillside and then strip her and photograph her. The photographs were to be used to blackmail Mr Wu […] but they later changed their minds, thinking it would be less troublesome to kidnap the son.”
The six-man gang was jailed in April.
Lau, 30, received the longest term – 12 years – for taking part “in the planning of the kidnap [expecting] a substantial reward of $200,000 for providing information on the movements of the boy, who had been placed in his custody at the time of the offence”, the Post reported on April 29.
Thomas Wu is currently managing director of Hopewell Holdings.