‘Master meat cutter’ butchered 62-year-old woman and tried to pin blame on imaginary friend, Hong Kong court told
Prosecutors lay out case on opening day of trial over death of woman whose body has yet to be found
A “master meat cutter” butchered his ex-wife’s aunt before disposing of the body parts in plastic bags and a suitcase that have never been found, a Hong Kong court heard on Thursday.
Ngan Wing-chau, 51, a butcher by trade, then attempted to pin the blame for Chan Sau-wa’s murder on an imaginary friend, “Ah Hoi”, when police began to question him, prosecutors said.
“[Ngan] was described as a master meat cutter,” prosecutor Michael Arthur told the jury in his opening remarks. “He is someone with a good deal of experience in the matter.”
Ngan, who worked at a meat shop in Shek Kip Mei, pleaded not guilty to murdering the 62-year-old, who was his mother-in-law’s sister. He also denied one count of preventing her lawful burial.
The prosecutor said Ngan murdered Chan in his home at the Iskra Building, on Cheung Sha Wan Road, on May 1, 2016.
While there were no eyewitnesses, and Chan’s remains have never been found, Arthur said closed-circuit television footage at the residence captured a great deal, including Ngan bringing a suitcase home the day before the woman disappeared.
On May 1, Chan was recorded on camera entering the building at 7.48pm, about 30 minutes after Ngan had arrived home.
“She was never seen after that,” Arthur said.
Two hours later, CCTV footage showed him leaving the building with a suitcase and a black plastic rubbish bag, the prosecutor said.
The defendant returned home and made four more trips, with the last at 2.32am, when he was also seen carrying a hammer. Each time he left carrying plastic bags and had the suitcase with him until the fourth journey, the jury was told.
Arthur said Ngan used the containers to get rid of Chan’s body, and anything else that might be used in evidence against him.
He said Ngan was arrested by police and held for questioning after Chan’s son reported her missing. It was during this, Arthur said, that Ngan tried to pin the blame on his friend, Ah Hoi.
The butcher initially told police that on the night in question he was out playing mahjong, and only learned Chan was missing when her son called him.
However, Ngan revealed he had borrowed HK$20,000 (US$2,550) from his ex-wife’s aunt, though he said he had paid that back.
Arthur said the defendant went on to give an even more “fantastic account”, claiming his friend Ah Hoi had stabbed Chan in his flat and that he had witnessed it. He helped dispose of Chan’s bloodstained clothes, but played no part in the actual murder, he claimed.
Ngan said that when he returned home from the task, the flat had been cleaned up, while Ah Hoi was nowhere to be seen.
He told police that Ah Hoi, whose full name he did not know, sneaked in and out of Hong Kong and trafficked organs in mainland China. The man, he said, was a relative of another man called Chan Ming, who helped him rent his flat.
But Arthur dismissed this account of the incident.
“What the defendant was saying … might have been a description of the actual murder of the deceased, but with this qualification – the killer was not Ah Hoi. The killer was the defendant himself,” the prosecutor said.
Chan Ming was an alias Ngan had been using, Arthur added.
He said of all the lies Ngan had told, the biggest concerned Ah Hoi.
“It was a complete fabrication to shift the blame of the murder, which he committed, to this imaginary person,” Arthur said.
Traces of Chan’s blood had been found near a sofa in Ngan’s house, he added.
The victim’s son, Chan Ho-man, said he last saw his mother the day before she went missing. On the day she disappeared, he said she called and asked him to prepare dinner. But she never came home.
The case continues before Mr Justice Patrick Li Hon-leung.