Former University of Hong Kong academic Cheung Kie-chung is a victim of long-term psychological abuse by his wife, a clinical psychologist told a High Court yesterday.
Psychologist Sammy Cheng Kin-wing told Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam on the 11th day of Cheung's murder trial that the former professor had suffered verbal abuse from his wife for over two years, which could have harmed his emotional control.
Cheung, 56, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Tina Chan Wai-man, 53, but admitted to manslaughter, which was rejected by the prosecution. He is also charged with preventing a lawful burial by concealing his wife's body at his office.
Cheng said he met Cheung earlier this year for a mental assessment and found Cheung had a serious emotional control disorder.
"[It means if Cheung] was under mild stress, he would still have huge and abnormal emotional reactions," Cheng said.
He added that the psychological abuse Cheung was suffering reached moderate to severe levels, according to the World Health Organization's standard.
Cheng said Chan would attack and insult Cheung verbally and even insult him publicly, which hurt his feelings.
He also noticed that Cheung could only express his opinions on certain issues and not his feelings, and said Cheung is "a person who would suppress his emotions for a long time."
Cheng said it was possible Cheung could not remember how he killed his wife, as studies have shown that "if a person is dominated by his emotions instead of rational thoughts, it's possible that he cannot focus on what he is doing at the moment."
He said Cheung told him the only thought he had after killing his wife was that no one could know about it. Therefore, he kept lying to his family and the police.
But when Cheng asked further questions about Cheung's feelings after his wife's death, he found that Cheung was repressing them.
He said it had become a "survival skill" that Cheung had developed due to long-term abuse, which allowed him to deal with daily life problems normally.
Cheng said that Cheung never told him about how he was forced by his wife to write her checks, but heard about it in court and believed it was a sign of the psychological abuse that Cheung was suffering from.
He explained that Cheung followed his wife's order to write checks worth millions to her without asking why, which was an abnormal reaction and a "fear-driven behavior" to avoid Chan's verbal abuse.
Psychiatrist Robyn Ho Mei-yee also testified yesterday that Cheung was suffering from depression when he committed the crime.
She added that the possible reason for his mental issues could be long-term pressure, an increasing workload and a worsening relationship with his wife.
Ho said the court could consider manslaughter as the verdict of the case but stressed that it would be up to the jury.
The hearing continues today.