Hong Kong courts

Rape suspect who hanged himself with computer cable in Hong Kong police station had not acted strangely after arrest, inquest hears

  • Lam Wing-chun, 48, was found dead in Sau Mau Ping Police Station the morning after being arrested on suspicion of rape and robbery
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2018, 10:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2018, 11:38pm

There was nothing unusual in the actions of a 48-year-old rape suspect before he hanged himself with a computer cable in police custody last year, a Hong Kong inquest heard on Wednesday.

But former drug user Lam Wing-chun did appear to respond slowly to inquiries at times, according to an officer who had questioned him shortly before his death on May 11, 2017 at Sau Mau Ping Police Station.

“After I asked him a question, it would take a while before he answered me,” said Tsoi Yuen-ming, who had also arrested Lam.

The inquest into Lam’s death began on Wednesday at the Coroner’s Court in Sham Shui Po.

His older brother and a number of police officers took the witness box to reconstruct the events surrounding Lam’s death.

They told the court Lam did not appear to be the kind of person who would harm himself.

Five jurors were selected to determine the cause of Lam’s death at the end of what was expected to be an eight-day hearing.

Lam was arrested on May 10, 2017 after he allegedly raped and robbed a woman near exit B of the Kowloon Bay MTR station two days earlier. While awaiting questioning, Lam was found dead the next morning in a police station detention room, hanged with a computer cable.

His older brother Lam Kwun-hang said Lam had been caught using ketamine a decade or more ago. But he had not heard of him still taking the drug. Nor was he told it had ever affected his younger brother’s mind.

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He also said his brother was not the type to gamble and did not owe money, though he admitted he was not very close to him.

Senior Inspector Lai Wai-chun, who was in charge of Lam’s case, said a woman reported that she had been raped and robbed of her three credit cards on May 8.

Lai said the investigation led him to Lam and officers arrested him at a building in Po Tat Estate in Sau Mai Ping two days later.

“The evidence was strong,” he recalled. Lam was held in custody while police awaited the results of tests on the woman’s clothing and other exhibits found in Lam’s home and at the scene.

Lai said at the time that none of his subordinates found anything unusual about the suspect.

Tsoi, who arrested Lam, said the suspect did not display any fluctuations in his emotions. Nor did he see any signs Lam was about to harm himself.

He said he first brought Lam to the station in Sau Mau Ping before later transferring him to Wong Tai Sin Police Station.

But because of miscommunication, he had to bring Lam back to Sau Mau Ping, where he conducted a video interview with the suspect later that day, hours before his death.

When Lam was asked about the rape and robbery allegations, he said he could not remember or refused to answer, Tsoi recalled.

Lam needed time to mull over the questions before giving an answer, he said. The next morning, Tsoi said, he was told Lam had died in custody.

Fellow officer Wong Ying-kit said of Lam: “He was calm.”

The inquest continues before Coroner Ko Wai-hung on Thursday.