Rape suspect’s body pulseless and cold when discovered hanging in Hong Kong police station, inquest hears
- Coroner’s Court told by more officers about missed patrols in the hour before his death because of ‘stomach ache’ or ‘headache’
- Police constables’ refusal to answer questions about their conduct elicits frustration from coroner and juror
The body of a rape suspect was pulseless and cold when discovered hanging in a Hong Kong police station detention ward last year, an inquest heard on Monday.
The Coroner’s Court also heard that officers on duty on May 11 last year had missed critical routine checks that were supposed to take place less than an hour before Lam Wing-chun’s death, because they had either a “stomach ache” or “headache”.
These revelations added to those of other officers, the inquest earlier heard, who missed their patrols even though they claimed to have done so in a log book.
Police officers who were asked about the false records on Monday repeatedly avoided the questioning and on many occasions claimed they could not recall what had happened on the day.
“I do not have more questions as you will not answer,” Coroner Ko Wai-hung said at one point to an officer, who, alongside six others, had hired lawyers to advise them in court.
Lam, 48, 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. He was detained in various police stations before he was last housed at Sau Mau Ping police station.
Senior constable Wong Wai-tak recalled that, at about 9.28am on May 11, he went to the detention cells with his sergeant, Rory Wu Siu-lung, to check the area because the shower in the cell where Lam stayed the night before had broken, soaking the floor.
But when Wong arrived, he saw Lam’s body hanging above the floor from a blue computer cable connected to the cell gate.
The senior constable said Lam was facing the corridor at the time and no longer giving any responses, noting: “The colour on his face had darkened.”
In about a minute, the officers tried to get Lam down. “I grabbed his armpit and it felt slightly cold,” Wong added.
Wu said he could not feel Lam’s pulse and did not carry out resuscitation procedures, as Lam no longer showed signs of life. The paramedics arrived seven minutes later.
Log book records showed that constable Kwok Chi-ho, who was supposed to check on Lam every 25 minutes, had been there at 8.40am and about 9am. But Kwok last went to the cell at 8.17am, the last time Lam was seen alive by any officers.
The constable admitted he did not actually check on the two latter recorded occasions. And when asked to answer who put the times on the record, he said: “I will not answer this.”
Kwok claimed a stomach ache had caused him to miss his patrols.
Another constable, Chong Ka-man, also refused to provide the court an answer on Monday when his absence was raised regarding an 8am patrol recorded in the log book.
Station sergeant Lok Tin-shing, who was required to check on Lam every hour, had not conducted any patrols between 7.30am and Lam’s death.
Yet the log book showed Lok had carried out a patrol at 8.40am, and he admitted he had not actually done so. Lok claimed he had been experiencing a headache, which led him to forget to ask others to help out.
The conduct of the officers on the day in question prompted one of the five jurors to ask whether their bosses had ever told them to take the log book seriously.
“I will not answer this question,” Kwok said.
The inquest continues on Tuesday.