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Thursday, August 20, 2015, 08:31

Murder conviction secured despite absence of dead body

By Shadow Li
Murder conviction secured despite absence of dead body

A former director of a security agency was found guilty of murdering his mistress by a High Court jury on Wednesday — the first murder conviction in the city without the victim’s body, forensic evidence or the defendant’s confession.

Ivan Chan Man-sum, 41, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a seven-member jury in a unanimous verdict reached after three hours’ deliberation based solely on circumstantial evidence.

Admitting the investigation was difficult, Chief Inspector of Regional Crime Unit of Kowloon East Regional Headquarters Chung Chi-ming said the case was the first in Hong Kong in which the victim’s body was still missing, no forensic evidence could be traced and the defendant refused to confess.

Chung told China Daily the police had cited several similar cases in England, New Zealand and Australia before deciding to prosecute Chan.

Chan was accused of slaughtering his 33-year-old mistress Chun Ka-yee on Oct 6, 2011. The victim became Chan’s mistress after the duo met in 2007 at a nightclub in Tsim Sha Tsui where she worked.

Chun was last seen on CCTV footage when returning to a flat Chan had bought for her. Chan was caught on video entering and leaving the building several times after that. He was seen leaving the building with a bulky nylon bag on a trolley on the second day of Chun’s disappearance. The bag was believed to contain the victim’s body.

A few days later, Chan renovated the flat.

The murder occurred after the pair’s relationship was discovered by Chan’s wife.

The father of two sons had earlier testified in court that the bag was used to carry his belongings, as he had been broken up with the victim for half a year.

Chun’s friend had reported her missing but this was rejected by police on the grounds that the friend was not her relative.

However, the police arrested Chan after two years of investigation.

In handing down the sentence, High Court judge Michael Stuart-Moore said that were it not for the complete security system inside the building that provided strong circumstantial evidence, the defendant may have got away with the crime. He also noted that the defendant was the only person claiming to have seen the victim after her disappearance.

The judge ordered the police to submit a report to explain why they did not accept the missing person report on the victim.

Albert Luk Wai-hung, a practicing barrister, said in law it was hard to prove a murder case when no corpse could be found. But Luk said Hong Kong had seen cases like this before.

The veteran lawyer said it did not matter whether the evidence was forensic or circumstantial, as long as it was enough to allow the jury to come to the irresistible inference that the defendant had murdered the victim.

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