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Hong Kong courts

Yoga ball murder trial: Malaysian professor won’t take stand in own defence as prosecution witness says accused acted unethically when experimenting with gas

Prosecution rests its case with medical scientist suggesting rabbit experiments weren’t done by the book, but defence says Khaw Kim Sun was just recycling them

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 9:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 9:26pm

A Malaysian professor accused of murdering his wife and daughter will not take the stand in his own defence, his barrister told the High Court on Thursday.

Gerard McCoy SC, representing Khaw Kim Sun, told the court of his client’s decision as he called Australia professor Nicholas Buckley, who specialises in pharmacology, as the first defence witness.

Prosecutors have said Khaw, who has denied two counts of murder, filled a yoga ball with carbon monoxide, and used it to kill his wife, Wong Siew Fing, 47, and daughter Lily Khaw Li Ling, 16, who were found dead inside Wong’s yellow Mini Cooper on May 22, 2015.

Earlier in the day the prosecution ended its case with a medical scientist suggesting Khaw broke ethical rules when conducting an experiment on rabbits with carbon monoxide.

Prosecutors have put a succession of doctors on the stand to support their case that Khaw’s experiment had no clinical value, but instead was a ruse he used to obtain the toxic gas he needed to commit the crime.

On Wednesday, Michael Irwin, the head of University of Hong Kong’s Department of Anaesthesiology, had previously told the court the anaesthesia specialist had failed to obtain approval before experimenting on the rabbits.

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But, on Thursday, McCoy revealed that the rabbits his client used at his Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care had come from a sister department, after they had finished with them.

McCoy told Irwin that the rabbits were given to Khaw for his experiment on May 13 and 20 by the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology.

“It’s therefore – in a cruel term – recycling,” McCoy said.

Irwin disagreed, saying the rabbits were subject to further suffering at the hands of Khaw before they were euthanised.

He said he would have gone back to the ethics committee to apply for another approval, if it was his experiment.

“I actually don’t like the term recycling,” he added.

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The court has heard Khaw, who did not have a track record of studying carbon monoxide, had designed an experiment in which he would introduce the gas into the rabbits’ blood, and the study how he and his colleagues could help them.

The professor’s wife and daughter died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and prosecutors have said that Khaw, 53, put the yoga ball, which was leaking gas, in the car.

The trial continues before Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling on Friday.