Woman in Hong Kong body-in-cement murder trial was tipped off about plans to kill her, court hears
Ho Ling-yu was told by one defendant that another flatmate was planning to ‘sell her off’ – murder her – in Taiwan
A young woman was tipped off that one of her three flatmates accused of the “body-in-cement” murder also wanted to “sell her off” – kill her – a Hong Kong court heard on Friday.
The revelation came from a transcript of a police interview with the woman, Ho Ling-yu, 20.
One of the trio had warned Ho about another flatmate’s plans after the defendants forced her to flee with them to Taiwan, according to the transcript read out in a High Court trial that has seen the three co-accused pitting themselves against one another.
The three flatmates, Tsang Cheung-yan, 28, Keith Lau, 23, and Cheung Sin-hang, 25, are on trial for the murder of their acquaintance Cheung Man-li, 28, on March 4, 2016 at their flat in the DAN6 industrial building in Tsuen Wan.
Prosecutors said there was evidence showing Tsang had owed the deceased, also known as Ah J, money. They said Tsang had also told others they would get a US$30 million (HK$234 million) reward for killing Cheung. After the alleged killing, they fled with Ho to Taiwan, and were arrested on their return to Hong Kong.
The trio have pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiring to murder, but admitted to a charge of preventing the lawful burial of Cheung’s body.
They encased his body in a block of concrete, a seven-member jury was told.
Cross-examining Ho on Friday, barrister Alex Ng Ching-wong, for Tsang, highlighted a passage from the transcript of answers that Ho – who has been granted immunity from prosecution in return for her testimony – gave to police during questioning.
Ng said to Ho: “You recalled that T [Tsang] told you Ah Ho [Lau] and another Taiwanese man wanted to sell you off.”
According to the transcript, police then asked Ho what she thought “selling her off” meant.
“To kill me as well,” she answered.
Ho confirmed in court on Friday that was indeed what she thought it meant.
Snippets of interviews the defendants gave to police were also summarised in court earlier. They all blamed each other for Cheung’s death.
Ho testified previously that Tsang suggested in a meeting the trio would be paid US$30 million by an international syndicate called “There” if they murdered Ah J.
Ng suggested the money element was “simply a joke”.
He said that in the same conversation, Tsang also put a price on his own death. “Ah J’s head, US$30 million. My head, US$50m,” Ng cited Tsang as allegedly saying during that chat.
Tsang even asked others to kill him to get the US$50 million, his barrister said. “Did you not realise that all that was simply a joke?” Ng put to Ho.
Ho said she believed it “a little bit”, but could only recall Tsang putting a price on his own head, but not asking others to go after him.
The group met regularly to discuss criminal activities, she said earlier. But she agreed on Friday with the defence lawyer’s suggestions that sometimes they would consume alcohol beforehand, and that none of these discussions had ever turned into action.
Upon the barrister’s probing, Ho admitted she “endeavoured” to become a prosecution witness. And while living with the defendants, Tsang would pay for her meals and buy her clothes and gifts.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick Li Hon-leung on Monday.