Knifemen offered HK$100,000 each to attack former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau, court hears

One of two suspects told police about reward for attack, court hears

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2015, 3:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 July, 2015, 9:13am

Two men were offered HK$100,000 each to slash the former chief editor of Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao, a court heard yesterday at the start of a trial examining the attack in Sai Wan Ho last year.

Yip Kim-wah and Wong Chi-wah, both 38, allegedly stole a motorcycle to follow journalist Kevin Lau Chun-to from his home in Kowloon Tong to Tai Hong Street in Siu Sai Wan on the morning of February 26, 2014.

According to prosecutor Nicholas Adams, Yip told police under caution the money was made available to them, but that he did not receive it. Wong was quoted as telling police: "When I slashed him, I didn't know it was Lau. I didn't know it would turn out to be such a mess."

The pair deny one joint count each of causing grievous bodily harm and stealing the motorcycle. Yip also faces a charge of stealing a vehicle licence. The opening of the hearing yesterday saw Lau, who needs physiotherapy three times a week to this day, appear at the High Court in the company of about five plainclothes police officers.

Lau told the court he was attacked when he bent down to pick up rubbish in his car.

"I felt my back being struck by a hard object. Then I felt my legs go numb," he testified.

"I looked up and wanted to know what was happening. I saw a motorcycle in front of my car."

Two men wearing helmets fled on the motorbike, Lau said. That was when he began to notice blood dripping from his body. His legs were very weak by the time he dialled 999 for help.

The victim suffered cuts to his left shoulder, back and both legs, Adams said. Some of the wounds were quite deep and nerves in his legs were damaged, keeping him in hospital until July 15 last year.

Lau said he joined Ming Pao in September 1995 and became chief editor in 2012. A month before the attack, he had assumed office as chief operating officer of Medianet, managing web news and educational publishing.

It was his habit to visit a restaurant on Tai Hong Street for breakfast before heading to work in Chai Wan, he testified. But the day before the attack, he had broken his routine, going instead to Kowloon Bay to pay a gas bill.

Yip and Wong had planned to strike a day earlier, Adams said. CCTV footage showed the motorbike circling the restaurant three times on February 25 - but Lau did not show up.

The duo had followed Lau for some time and got to know his routine, the court heard. They had also stolen a motorbike earlier that month. Following the attack, they abandoned the vehicle and escaped to the mainland, where they were arrested. Hong Kong police took charge of the suspects on March 17 last year.

Both claimed not to know Lau, but Yip told police they were offered HK$100,000 each to set upon him, Adams said.

The prosecutor also cited Yip as saying: "I was to receive money to help someone do the job. I was only responsible for driving the vehicle. It was 'Wah Chai' who did the chopping." The trial continues before Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping.