Body-in-cement murder case

Witness admits talking about killing man and collecting reward in Hong Kong body-in-cement murder trial

Ho Ling-yu, 20, was granted immunity from prosecution but under grilling from defence lawyer admits she too discussed murdering Cheung Man-li

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2018, 8:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2018, 9:55pm

A young Hong Kong woman granted immunity to testify against three flatmates charged with killing their acquaintance and encasing his body in cement admitted on Tuesday that she too had talked about killing the man and wanted a share of the US$30 million (HK$234 million) reward.

Ho Ling-yu, 20, made the shock admission while being cross-examined by one of the defence counsels in the High Court murder trial.

The defendant-turned-prosecution witness on Tuesday initially denied having discussed the killing but under the lawyer’s grilling she admitted that she had. 

Barrister Steve Tsui, for defendant Cheung Sin-hang, suggested that Ho had refused to disclose her remarks – despite numerous police interviews – because she wanted to stay out of trouble. 

“You were doing it with a view that you might be accepted by the prosecution to turn you from a defendant into a prosecution witness, giving you full immunity,” Tsui said.

Sobbing, Ho disagreed, saying no one had asked her about it at the time. 

‘Witness in body-in-cement trial changed statement under police influence’

Ho was originally charged with conspiracy to murder with her flatmates, Tsang Cheung-yan, 28, Keith Lau, 23, and Cheung, 25, over the death of Cheung Man-li, 28, at their flat in Tsuen Wan.

Only the three men now face prosecution. 

Prosecutors allege that before murdering the deceased, also known as Ah J, at Flat 9D in the Dan6 industrial building on March 4, 2016, Tsang, Lau and Cheung Sin-hang talked about how they would collect US$30 million for the killing. 

The trio allegedly attacked Ah J with chloroform and later buried his body in a block of cement. They pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, but admitted preventing the lawful burial of Cheung’s body. 

Ho was a defendant at the outset and was remanded in custody before becoming a prosecution witness. 

The court previously heard Ho was present when Tsang floated the idea of killing Cheung for the reward while the other two defendants would join in the discussion. 

However, Tuesday was the first time Ho admitted she had also suggested killing the deceased for money during those meetings – though she said it was in a joking manner.

“At the very least, it surprises me you hadn’t mentioned even one word of what you said on those occasions,” Tsui said, referring to her interviews with police and the witness statements she gave. 

Woman in body-in-cement murder trial was tipped off about plans to kill her, court hears

The lawyer said Tsang and Lau introduced his client to Ho in late 2015. He moved into the Dan6 flat after Ho. Ho agreed with the lawyer that while at the flat, Tsang had given her and his client drinks laced with powder, which after repeated consumption left them tired and constantly drowsy.

“I was in a coma,” she said. 

Tsui said the drinks affected his client’s sense of judgment and clear mind. Ho agreed. 

The lawyer asked Ho if she knew Tsang, who was married, had tattooed an “M” on his body to represent a new organisation he wanted to establish which would replace “There”, a group he said he belonged to and which would pay the US$30 million. Ho said she had heard about it. 

Tsui said Tsang always acted like a big boss and would manipulate others. Ho also agreed.

He said Tsang had once asked his client to borrow at least HK$120,000 from two financial institutions, after which Tsang kept most of the money. Ho, before wrapping up her testimony, said she did not know about that. 

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick Li Hon-leung on Wednesday.