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Hong Kong courts

Elderly Hong Kong man killed landlord with hammer, then locked rotting body in room, court hears in murder trial

  • Corpse was only discovered five days later when a housemate noticed stench and maggots
  • Accused had told officers alleged victim was the one who started fight
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 9:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 9:49pm

An elderly Hong Kong man repeatedly struck his landlord on the head with a hammer, breaking his skull and causing him to bleed to death, the court heard on Tuesday in a murder trial.

The deceased, Chan Kun-lan, 80, was not discovered until days later when a housemate noticed maggots in the home and a stench. Alleged attacker Ngai Yiu-ching, 79, had locked Chan in a room and left his body there.

Prosecutor Steven Kwan Man-wai revealed details of the case to the High Court in his opening speech.

“Cheung saw between 20 and 30 maggots crawling from the room,” the prosecutor said, referring to Cheung Sair-leung, Ngai’s housemate.

Cheung only discovered the body when he became suspicious from the signs and peeked into the room from a window, according to Kwan.

Elderly Hong Kong man ‘kills neighbour, starts fire and jumps from window’

On Tuesday Ngai pleaded not guilty to one count of murder on April 10, 2017 at their home in Tin Sam Tsuen in Yuen Long. The trial, expected to stretch eight days, will be heard by a panel of seven jurors.

Kwan said the afternoon attack took place after Chan rode his bike to the premises. The landlord also had a room in the house, although he never stayed overnight, the court heard.

According to the prosecutor, Ngai, armed with a hammer, struck soon after Chan entered, hitting his victim multiple times on the head.

“He then placed a pillow over Chan’s head thinking [the bleeding] was disgusting,” Kwan said, adding that surveillance footage had captured the accused disposing of the weapon in a bag, which was never found. The court heard that Ngai then locked Chan in his room.

“For days, Chan’s body remained in there, rotting and emitting a smell,” Kwan said.

For days, Chan’s body remained in there, rotting and emitting a smell
Steven Kwan, prosecutor

A postmortem found 29 fractures across a large area of Chan’s skull. Forensic pathologists concluded that Chan was hit hard repeatedly and bled profusely found his wounds. Blood stains were found in the room.

Housemate Cheung noticed a smell and saw just one or two maggots later. He initially thought nothing of it, assuming they were from a dead rat, Kwan said.

It was not until five days later on April 15 that Cheung saw more maggots crawling out of the room and conducted a check, resulting in the grisly find. He saw Chan’s rotting body through a window into the room, and immediately called police, Kwan said.

Cheung, in the witness box, said he had never seen Chan and Ngai argue, although Ngai had complained to him once that he was not happy Chan had swapped a big television in the house for a smaller one.

Ngai had also discussed with him the manner in which Chan chatted with women, according to Cheung, to which he recalled replying: “It is other people’s business.”

The prosecutor said after Ngai was arrested, he admitted killing Chan, but told police the other man had started the fight.

“Chan wanted to use the hammer to strike me. I snatched it from him,” he told officers.

“It was he who struck first. I killed him,” he added.

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