Prof denies killing wife and daughter with gas-filled yoga ball

Top News | Amy Nip 23 Aug 2018

An anesthesia expert at Chinese University, who was having an affair with a student, murdered his wife and daughter by putting a fitness ball filled with carbon monoxide inside a car, the High Court heard yesterday.

He had negotiated with his wife for a divorce after he had an affair with a research assistant.

Wanting to kill the wife, he ended up killing the teenage daughter too as she was in the car with her mother, the prosecution said.

Malaysian professor Khaw Kim-sun, 53, pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder three years ago.

In the prosecution's opening address, Senior Counsel Andrew Bruce told Judge Judianna Barnes that the wife, Wong Siew-fing, 47, and second daughter Khaw Li-ling, 16, were found inside a Mini Cooper on May 22, 2015.

They were certified dead after they were sent to the hospital. Both died after inhaling carbon monoxide.

Police found a deflated yoga ball, whose opening was not plugged, in the back of the car.

Bruce said the carbon monoxide leaked from the ball, and it was Khaw who put it there.

Anyone who put a fitness ball full of carbon monoxide inside the narrow space of a car would have the intent to murder, he said.

As an associate professor at CUHK's Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care and a professional anesthetist, Khaw should know the amount of gas in the ball was enough to kill.

While Khaw would have planned to kill the wife when she drove to pick up the children, the daughter died too because, not having classes that day, had joined the mother in the car.

He should be held responsible for her death too, although he did not intend to kill her, Bruce said.

Bruce said Khaw admitted he was in an affair with his research assistant, who coincidentally was working on carbon monoxide.

The man had negotiated with his wife for a divorce, including a financial settlement and their children's custody back in 2013.

Between 2013 and 2015, Khaw traveled with the girlfriend out of Hong Kong at least nine times. Bruce said Khaw had used research as an excuse to get his hands on carbon monoxide.

Under caution, he told the police that he filled two fitness balls with the gas, which he wanted to use to kill laboratory mice.

The wife could have used the fitness ball to commit suicide, Khaw told the police.

But Bruce said Khaw did not tell others there was carbon monoxide inside the ball. That he intended to use the gas for research was just an excuse.

Nobody saw Khaw putting the ball inside the Mini Cooper, or unplugging it to release the gas inside. But only a few people could have put the ball in the car, Bruce said.

If the jury - five men and four women - concluded that the only reasonable deduction was that Khaw put the ball in the car and released the gas, they should find him guilty of murder, he said.

Nurse Tong Yuk-ling, the first witness, said she saw the Mini Cooper parked at a Sai O Village bus stop in Wu Kai Sha in the afternoon while on her way home.

She thought the two were asleep.

But when she went jogging and saw the two in the same position 20 minutes later, she was alarmed and called the police.

The trial continues today.

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