Former HKU professor found guilty of murdering his wife

Local | 26 Nov 2020 9:14 pm

University of Hong Kong professor Cheung Kie-chung has been found guilty of murdering his wife, Tina Chan Wai-man, two years ago.

A High Court seven-member jury this evening returned the guilty verdict after less than eight hours of deliberations, following 11 days trial.

Cheung, 56, has admitted killing 53-year-old Chan on August 17, 2018 at their residence at Wei Lun Hall of the university.

Cheung's lawyer Graham Harris asked Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam to adjourn the case for mitigation of the charge of preventing a lawful burial. Pang then adjourned the case till December 3 for mitigation and sentencing.

Harris said although the defense understand any person who is convicted of murder shall be imprisoned for life, they still want to mitigate for the other charge Cheung is facing. He said they have prepared a mitigation letter that was signed by hundreds of people.

Cheung was calm in the prisoner stand when the jury of four men and three women returned a 5-2 verdict after retiring for deliberation at 12.30pm.  

Cheung had strangled Chan with a cable wire while they were in bed that night. He also stuffed her body in a suitcase in a "wooden coffin" and moved it to his office in the university.

Their two children -- Nancy and Scot -- have also told the court the arguments between their parents were usually provoked by Chan. Cheung lost weight sharply and became impatient from 2016.

Earlier today, Pang reminded the jury that it is only hearsay by the sister-in-law that Chan had wanted a divorce.

Pang said the jury should consider Cheung’s relationship with his wife, the character of Cheung and Chan, and testimonies of a psychologist and forensics.

Pang said Chan’s sister testified in a written statement that Chan had once told her Cheung was not a good person, which made her suspect Cheung was harboring secrets. 

Pang said the statement conveyed the sister’s personal feelings, and did not prove Cheung had asked Chan not to disclose certain things to her sister.

She also reminded the jury that Chan's sister's statement that Chan wanted a divorce six or seven years ago was hearsay evidence and the jury can decide whether they accept it or not.

Pang said two psychiatrists testified that Cheung was suffering from depression and it was possible he might lose self-control due to mental illness. If the jury chose not to accept their testimony, they must provide specific reasons, she said.

Pang added that the jury should not only consider if Cheung could have his penalty reduced because of his mental illness, but also whether his mental status would make him vulnerable to provocation.

Pang said Cheung and Chan had a happy marriage for 30 years, but their relations deteriorated when their children went to secondary schools.

Chan started to insult Cheung from time to time, but Cheung seldom fought back, Pang said, adding that no matter how furious they were, they never used violence against each other. 

Pang also recalled the testimony by Citibank staff that Chan said she would later withdraw HK$2.5 million after she deposited a HK$4 million check into a new account. Pang said Chan would not mention about the withdrawal if she knew the check would bounce.

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