High Court trial begins for Hong Kong trio charged in body-in-cement murder case
Money row believed to be at heart of gruesome killing which saw victim’s body cut up into pieces
Three men plotted to kill an acquaintance and then buried his body in blood-spattered cement, prosecutors told the High Court on Tuesday.
The allegations were made on the first day of the trial of Tsang Cheung-yan, 28, Keith Lau, 23, and Cheung Sin-hang, 25, who are charged with conspiring to murder Cheung Man-li in 2016. The trio have all pleaded guilty to one joint count of preventing the lawful burial of Cheung Man-li’s body.
Prosecutor Richard Turnbull told the court the trio covered Cheung Man-li’s mouth with ladies panties soaked with chloroform, before injecting him with alcohol.
His body was then buried in cement, a technique one of the defendants, Cheung Sin-hang, learned from Google.
However, the cement block was too heavy to be moved from the crime scene, forcing the defendants to break Cheung Man-li’s corpse into pieces, the prosecutor said.
The trio then fled to Taiwan after still failing to remove it, Turnbull told an all-male panel of seven jurors.
Police believe Cheung Man-li, also known as “Ah J” was killed in Flat 9D of the DAN 6 industrial building on Fui Yiu Kok Street in Tsuen Wan, where the defendants lived.
On Tuesday, the prosecutor gave a detailed opening speech with information sourced from police interviews with the three defendants, as well as one of their housemates at the time.
Turnbull said that when Cheung Man-li was killed he was in a stable relationship with his girlfriend and the couple planned to purchase their own home. Tsang was supposed to give the victim a HK$5 million cash order.
The court also heard Tsang once told the others that if they killed Cheung Man-li they would be awarded HK$30 million by an international criminal gang called “There”.
Turnbull said the defendants had talked and researched about murdering Cheung Man-li before the alleged offence, citing evidence from their housemate Ho Ling-yu. Ho initially thought they were joking.
On March 4, 2016, Tsang and Cheung Sin-hang went to pick up the victim and invited him back to their flat.
Ho, the prosecutor said, recalled being told not to go downstairs to the living room when Cheung Man-li arrived.
She said a pair of black ladies’ panties with chloroform had been prepared beforehand and then saw Lau going up and down the stairs holding the panties.
Soon afterwards, she heard a cry from the living room from someone she believed to be the deceased, followed by an exchange of expletives.
At some point, Tsang came upstairs and told her “Ah J was dead”, Turnbull said.
The following day, the building’s CCTV showed the Tsang and Cheung Sin-hang entering the building with six bags of cement, the prosecutor said.
That night, Ho came home to find a cement block in the middle of the living room, with the air-conditioner at a very low temperature.
Lau left Hong Kong for Singapore to attend a dance competition on March 5 and returned later. He told a friend, who went with him, that he had done something “terribly wrong”, the prosecutor said.
The court heard the defendants then tried to cut up the cement block to remove it on March 8, but still could not get it out of the flat.
After failing to hide the body, they fled to Taiwan, along with Ho, who feared she would be made liable for Cheung Man-li’s death.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick Li Hon-leung on Wednesday.