Hong Kong man guilty of murdering girl, 15, in frenzied photo shoot sex attack
High Court jury convicts Lau Cheung-fai, 37, of brutal killing in which victim was tied up, beaten and sexually assaulted before her body was dumped
A Hong Kong man was on Tuesday convicted of the “heartless” murder of a 15-year-old girl who he had also raped despite believing her heart had stopped.
After deliberating for three hours, a High Court jury unanimously found Lau Cheung-fai, 37, guilty of murdering Kwok Wai-ming during what was supposed to be a private photo shoot that went wrong.
Lau turned the shoot into a savage combination of blows involving bondage and sexual assault at his Mong Kok flat on December 8, 2014.
“You have committed a heartless and horrific murder,” Mr Justice Kevin Zervos said, following a trial that graphically detailed how Lau sexually assaulted his victim after he wrapped adhesive tape around her and struck her on the head with a ketchup bottle.
Zervos described the repulsive attack as callous and grossly indecent, before conveying to the defendant that he would be jailed for life.
The court earlier heard that the two first contacted each other through social media application WeChat. That prompted the judge on Tuesday to ask prosecutors to contact social media operators to inquire about their policies on preventing and detecting crimes against the “young and vulnerable”.
Zervos is expected to incorporate the findings and his comments in his reasons for sentencing, when he will formally put Lau behind bars for life on Friday.
Kwok’s parents followed the trial with a “heavy heart”, the Post learned.
The trial heard earlier that Lau met the girl, known as “Siu B”, through a mobile app before they started chatting on WeChat.
Lau was to pay HK$500 (US$64) for a private shoot. But when they arrived at his flat at Kam Fong Street, Kwok mentioned her work, which provoked a grudge that the jobless Lau held against former colleagues. The former technician, who had also worked as a security guard, began hitting her repeatedly with a ketchup bottle. The court heard he put plastic ties on her and wrapped her with adhesive tape, before sexually assaulting her with a Chinese wine bottle.
He then forced her to drink about 250 millilitres of wine.
According to a video interview played in court, Lau told police he feared his wife and mother-in-law’s return was imminent, so he thought: “The time has come. This is the only way to make [her] stop moving.”
He said Kwok’s breathing slowed and heart stopped following an intense struggle as a result of him wrapping three ties around her neck.
Lau then wheeled her in a suitcase to a nearby hotel, where, despite believing her heart had stopped, he had sex with her twice. He said he was not sure if she was dead until he returned the next day to find a “smell” in the room. A worker at the refuse station where Lau disposed of the body alerted police, leading to Lau’s arrest.
The guilty verdict meant the jury refused to accept Lau’s culpability should be reduced to manslaughter because of his state of mind. Lau had suffered from mental illness.