Suicide ruling in rape cell case

Local | Sophie Hui 23 May 2019

A jury at the Coroner's Court yesterday ruled that a rape suspect had committed suicide while being detained at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre two years ago.

Lam Lok-man, 28, was found hanging with a bed sheet in a staff toilet at the center on July 10, 2017 after he was arrested for allegedly raping a woman at Po Tin Estate in Tuen Mun. He died two days later at the Caritas Medical Centre.

After deliberation for about three hours, the five-member jury - four women and a man - reached a unanimous verdict.

The jury also told coroner Stephanie Tsui May-har that they made two suggestions to the Correctional Services Department to ensure similar incidents don't happen again.

The first suggestion was to set specific time periods to clean the staff toilet, and the remanded people responsible can only clean it during that interval.

The gate and door to the staff toilet should be locked at all other times to reduce the chance of remanded people accessing the staff toilet.

The second suggestion was to make arrangements where the remanded people work in a group of two in areas that are not covered by CCTV cameras in order to ensure they are not on their own.

Lam's father Lam Tsz-hoi testified in court on Monday, but he and Lam's other family members did not make an appearance yesterday.

The elder Lam told the court that his wife had visited their son at the reception center, and Lam told her he had committed a crime and might have psychological issues.

Lam later left a suicide note before his death, saying he could not solve his issues, the court heard.

According to the site plan, the staff toilet could not be seen from the function room as people needed to pass through a gate.

An officer from the department, who is in charge of the function room, earlier told the court that he could see the corridor outside the staff toilet when he was carrying out an inspection every few minutes.

However, he could not see what Lam was doing in the toilet.

Before the jury started deliberating, the lawyer representing the Correctional Services Department said before Lam was found hanging in the toilet, there was nothing unusual about his emotions and he was working hard as a cleaner.

The officer also said detainees had access to old bed sheets from the cleaning supplies cupboard, and added that there aren't any limits on how many sheets each prisoner can take.

Another remanded person told the court that when he had called for Lam while they were cleaning, Lam had responded.

However, Lam did not respond at 8am on the day, and he later found him hanging in the toilet.

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com

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