Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong financial boss Ivan Chan receives life sentence at retrial for murdering his mistress

The jury returns 6-1 majority guilty verdict after less than five hours of deliberation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 7:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 11:00pm

A finance company director who took six years to admit that he killed his mistress and dumped her body in a rubbish trolley parked outside a Hong Kong village was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday after he was found guilty of murder for the second time.

A High Court jury of six men and one woman returned a 6-1 majority verdict of murder against Ivan Chan Man-sum, 44, after 4½ hours of deliberation at his retrial.

“Since you have been convicted by the jury, there is only one sentence, which is a mandatory one, you are jailed for life,” Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam said.

Chan stared at the ceiling after hearing the verdict then nodded in acknowledgment as he wore a look of sorrow on his face.

The case centred on the death of nightclub hostess Chun Ka-yee, 33, who mysteriously vanished from her flat after she was last seen entering her building at Amoy Gardens, Kowloon Bay, on October 5, 2011.

Nobody saw her leave and her body was never found.

But CCTV footage revealed that Chan had visited her flat several times after Chun was last seen and cleared the premises. On October 7, 2011, Chan was seen wheeling a heavy-looking nylon bag out of the building.

Last month, Chan admitted that he killed Chun “by mistake” during a fight to end their extramarital affair, and confessed to disposing her body in a nylon bag that he dumped into a rubbish trolley parked outside a village between Tseung Kwan O and Sai Kung.

He also admitted to impersonating Chun in texting messages to people who were looking for her for six months after she went missing.

“I will stay in the mainland for a period of time, contact you the day upon return,” he said in a message.

That version of the story stood in sharp contrast with the yarn he spun to another jury two years ago, in which he claimed that he did not know where Chun had gone after their break-up.

“I never killed anyone,” Chan had sworn under oath.

But that did not stop the jury from returning a unanimous verdict to find him guilty of murder, despite there being no body, no confession, nor any forensic evidence that linked him to the killing, which was a first in Hong Kong.

A retrial was ordered in July after Chan successfully appealed against the judge’s legal directions.

The new jury was asked to decide if Chan had the intent to murder or cause Chun grievous bodily harm. Prosecutors argued that intent was formed during a physical fight, but the defence countered that seemed “out of the blue” and suggested Chan could have been acting in self-defence.

When asked to explain the discrepancy in his accounts, Chan said he concealed the killing because he was worried about losing his wife and family then. But that burden no longer troubled him after his wife divorced him last year.

Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Anna Lai Yuen-kee SC said there was overwhelming evidence pointing to murder and warned the jury that Chan was a skilful, habitual liar.

“He swore by Almighty God to tell the truth and nothing but the truth,” she said of his testimony to the first trial. “What did he do? He lied about killing Miss Chun, he lied extensively.”