Yoga ball murder case

Yoga ball murders: Malaysian professor seeks appeal against conviction and life sentence for killing wife and daughter in Hong Kong

Khaw Kim Sun, 53, killed his wife, Wong Siew Fing, 47, and their second child, Lily Khaw Li Ling, 16, with deadly gas in 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 1:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 1:42pm

A Malaysian professor who was sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife and daughter using a gas-filled yoga ball in Hong Kong is seeking to appeal against his convictions.

Last month, after almost seven hours of deliberation at the High Court, a jury of five men and four women unanimously found Khaw Kim Sun, 53, guilty of murdering his wife, Wong Siew Fing, 47, and their second child, Lily Khaw Li Ling, 16, three years ago.

Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling stipulated the mandatory life sentence for murder, telling Khaw: “It is shocking that a highly educated and successful man would conjure up such a calculated method to get rid of his wife.”

Khaw’s three other children – the eldest in university and the other two still in secondary school – are now living without both parents, as the professor is behind bars in Stanley Prison, a maximum security institution for male adult prisoners who are high security risks.

A Department of Justice spokesman said on Wednesday that the department had received the notice of appeal by the defendant the previous day.

During the 21-day trial, which captivated Hong Kong because of the unusual murder weapon, prosecutor Andrew Bruce SC said Khaw, a specialist in anaesthesiology, had put a leaking inflatable ball containing carbon monoxide in the boot of a yellow Mini Cooper driven by his wife on May 22, 2015.

Wong and Lily were later found unresponsive in the car parked at the Sai O Village bus stop, a four-minute drive from their home at Tai Tung Village in Ma On Shan. They had suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and died after being rushed to Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, where Khaw worked as a doctor.

To perfect his method, the prosecutor told the court, the professor went out of his way to set up an experiment as a cover to obtain the gas – a suggestion fiercely contested by Khaw’s lawyers during the highly technical trial that featured a long list of doctors and professors as both prosecution and defence witnesses.

But prosecutors could present no more than a circumstantial case, as no one had witnessed who placed the yoga ball in the car and when.

During the trial, Khaw never disputed taking the dangerous gas home in a yoga ball but claimed he had planned only to use it on rats that were infesting his home.

The professor suggested to police after his arrest that it was perhaps Lily who had used the gas-filled ball to commit suicide – taking her mother’s life as well – even though her friends described her in court as a teenage girl “full of life”.

Khaw’s lawyer, Gerard McCoy SC, offered an alternative version of events during his closing speech, saying Lily, who feared bugs, may have used the gas as a pesticide without appreciating its deadly nature.

A spokesman for Prince of Wales Hospital said Khaw had been suspended as of September 12, 2017, as both a member of the teaching staff at Chinese University and a doctor at the hospital.