‘Type of person all parents fear and dread’: life in prison for Hong Kong sex murderer of girl, 15
Judge urges social networking sites to step up protections for young users after sentencing Lau Cheung-fai, in case which saw him lure girl via WeChat and iAround
A Hong Kong judge on Friday urged social networking sites to step up protections for vulnerable youngsters as he sentenced a murderer to life in prison for subjecting a 15-year-old girl he met online to sexual atrocities.
Before sending Lau Cheung-fai away, High Court judge Mr Justice Kevin Zervos described the married man “as the type of person all parents fear and dread”.
Lau, 37, was on Tuesday found guilty by unanimous verdict of the murder of Kwok Wai-ming, also known as Siu B. He met the young girl through mobile applications before luring her to his Mong Kok flat, where he put her through an indecent assault too graphic for the Post to fully detail.
On December 8, 2014, she finally lost all signs of life, but the court heard how Lau then went on to rape her twice anyway after wheeling her in a suitcase to a hotel. He eventually dumped her body at a rubbish station.
“He took the deceased to his flat and carried out terrible atrocities and indignities before extinguishing her life,” Zervos said. The defendant had shown “no mercy” or “human feeling” over what he put her through, the judge said.
On Tuesday Zervos had taken note of the social media platforms the pair used. He invited the prosecution to contact several of these companies and conduct research into what had been done to protect young users.
On Friday, after being informed of the results, he said existing laws were not specific enough to target cybercrimes, nor were there regulations guiding social media sites.
He said he believed these firms were not doing enough to address the problem, and the responsibility had been left with government authorities.
“The operators and owners of social mediums and social networking sites also have an important role to play,” he said.
Just as warning signs were placed on streets and on consumer products to warn of hazards, there should also be warnings posted in cyberspace, he said.
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“Solving this problem will not be easy, but it needs to be addressed,” Zervos said.
During the trial the court heard how Lau was supposed to meet Kwok for a private photo shoot after the pair made contact on iAround and WeChat. He was to pay her HK$500.
But when they got back to his home, he began to attack her. He hit her with a ketchup bottle and bound her with plastic ties and adhesive tape. He also assaulted her private parts with a wine bottle before strangling her.
Next he raped her twice after moving her body to a nearby hotel. He said he believed her heart had already stopped at this point. The next day he dumped her at a rubbish station, where the body was discovered by a worker, who then alerted police.
Lau, who claimed he had heard God and Satan’s voices as he carried out his crimes, argued his actions had been affected by his mental state. But Zervos firmly rejected that claim, saying he was “calm” and “organised” when he disposed of the body.
iAround did not respond to inquiries from the prosecutors. WeChat said they issued every user with advice to be careful, but did not specifically target youngsters.
WeChat, China’s biggest messaging app with more than one billion users, said they would follow up on the judge’s suggestions. It also said it would terminate user accounts if it received substantiated complaints of someone behaving suspiciously. A report would be made to police if the complaint involved a criminal offence, the prosecutors told the court.
But Zervos feared banned users could re-emerge anytime if an account termination was never conveyed to other users.