Murders grip the attention in Hong Kong, one of the world's safest cities

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 November, 2014, 6:08am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 November, 2014, 3:12pm

Hong Kong's reputation as one of the safest cities in the world is hard-earned and well deserved. Few big cities feel as safe regardless of how late or dark it is.

That goes some way to explain why murders in the city often grip the attention - even when they lack the sensational circumstances of the discovery of the bodies of two foreign nationals in Wan Chai hours after Halloween.

In August, the city was gripped by the grisly details of the murder trial of Henry Chau Hoi-leung and his friend Tse Chun-kei. The details of the case proved so extreme that the trial had to be abandoned when two jurors dropped out.

Chau, 30, and Tse, 36, allegedly killed, dismembered, salted and cooked Chau's elderly parents in March last year.

The couple's dismembered bodies were discovered in their flat in Tai Kok Tsui by police on March 15, with their heads and organs discovered inside two refrigerators.

The defendants had pleaded not guilty.

A new trial is scheduled for February next year, this time with nine jurors instead of the usual seven.

In another dramatic case, 51-year-old Li Tak-yan, a jobless ex-convict, shot himself dead on June 1 this year, 12 hours after allegedly killing a neighbour at his Kowloon Bay public housing estate. Police had exchanged gunfire with Li and elite officers used stun grenades and tear gas to break into the suspect's 10th-floor flat, where they found he had taken his own life.

The case took another turn when it was revealed that the alleged gunman was the father of actress Liddy Li, 27. Li had been accused of coming between Hong Kong director Oxide Pang Chun and his Malaysian actress wife, Angelica Lee Sinje.

In another case, a 22-year-old psychiatric patient was arrested for killing a passer-by on June 10 this year after throwing a chair from the roof of a 10-storey building in Mong Kok.

Murders among the city's expatriate community remain rarer still. The most notorious is the "milkshake murder" case of American Nancy Kissel, who killed her husband, Robert, on November 2, 2003.

Kissel, who lost her final appeal against conviction in May, bludgeoned her investment banker husband to death after getting their daughter to serve him a drug-laced milkshake.

Fourteen homicides were recorded by police in the first seven months of this year, down from 56 in the same period last year. The latter figure was skewed by the inclusion of the 39 deaths in the 2012 Lamma ferry tragedy, which were recorded as homicides during that period.