Hong Kong : An anesthesiologist, Khaw Kim-sun, 53, is on trial in Hong Kong charged with killing his wife and daughter by placing a leaking yoga ball filled with carbon monoxide in their car.
The Malaysian professor who was having an affair filled a yoga ball with dangerous gas to kill his wife and daughter in a “deliberate and calculated” murder plot, a Hong Kong court heard on Wednesday.
Khaw Kim-sun put the inflatable ball containing carbon monoxide in the boot of a yellow Mini Cooper driven by his wife, Wong Siew-fung, 47, on May 22, 2015, prosecutors told the High Court.
His 16-year-old daughter Khaw Li-ling was in the passenger seat.
Prosecutor Andrew Bruce SC told the jury of five men and four women that Khaw set up a research project with “no value” to obtain the carbon monoxide he later used in the murder plot and was assisted in this project by the student he was having an affair with.
His colleagues at Chinese University’s department of anaesthesia and intensive care spotted Khaw filling two yoga balls with carbon monoxide. He claimed he wanted to test its purity and also told them he was experimenting with the effects of the gas on rabbits.
But experts said Khaw’s rabbit experiment would not be transferable to humans and that it was “extremely dangerous” to store such gas with yoga balls.
Bruce said Khaw knew the risk and put a meter in his car when he took two yoga balls, filled with carbon monoxide, home. Invoices showed he spent tens of thousands of dollars on 6.8 cubic metres of carbon monoxide of 99 per cent purity.
During police interviews, Khaw said he had taken the gas home in the yoga balls to exterminate rats at home, but a domestic helper who worked for him said there had never been a rodent problem.
Khaw also suggested his daughter might have used the gas-filled balls to commit suicide, something which Bruce called “a lame lie”.
“It is simply not true,” he said, adding that teachers at her school had said she was happy. Khaw’s wife knew about his mistress, but refused to get a divorce, Bruce said.
The court heard Khaw’s wife and daughter were found in a car parked at the Sai O Village bus stop in Ma On Shan by a jogger.
Tong Yuk-ling told the court she initially thought the pair were taking a nap, but grew suspicious when she came past a second time, 45 minutes later, and noticed the wipers were on even though it had not rained.
They were taken to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, where Khaw also worked as a doctor, where they were certified dead.
A postmortem found they had died from inhaling carbon monoxide, but the car showed no defects, which led officers to shift their attention to a deflated yoga ball in the back of the vehicle.
The prosecution said Khaw probably did not intend to kill his daughter.
“The last thing the accused wanted was for his 16-year-old to die,” Bruce said. Khaw had not been aware his daughter was away from school on the same day he planned to kill his wife.
“[But] if that person knew what was in the car was carbon monoxide and knew it was a dangerous gas likely to kill you, you can confirm this person had homicide on his mind,” Bruce told the jury.
He said the gas, while present in everyday life, could impair vision and cause unconsciousness and death, if inhaled in sufficient volume.
“It can kill,” Bruce said. “And it did kill.”
Khaw has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and the trial continues on Thursday before Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling.
A former Chinese University professor, who is accused of murdering his wife and daughter using a gas-filled yoga ball, was living a separate life to his spouse, the couple’s former helper told a Hong Kong court on Thursday.
On the second day of his trial, Khaw, 53, wept in the dock at the High Court as a forensic pathologist described the postmortem carried out on his daughter’s body.
His sudden outburst in the morning session prompted Judge Judianna Barnes Wai-ling to adjourn the trial and break for an early lunch.
The anaesthesiologist, who used to work at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, wiped his eyes and nose with a tissue when he heard Dr Foo Ka-chung describe his examination of the girl.
In what prosecutors called a “deliberate and calculated” murder plot, Khaw ordered carbon monoxide through his university office, claiming it was for research purposes.
But prosecutors said he ended up using it to fill up a yoga ball, which he then unplugged and placed inside Wong’s car. The two victims were found unconscious in the Mini Cooper at the Sai O Village bus stop in Ma On Shan. They were later declared dead by carbon monoxide poisoning at Prince of Wales Hospital.
The couple’s helper, Siti Maesaroh, gave evidence on Thursday that Khaw and Wong had been sleeping in separate rooms since she had started working for the couple and their four children.
“Ma’am did the cooking for the children,” the Indonesian maid said, adding that “sir made it [his own meals] for himself”.
Maesaroh also said that the couple only drove their own cars, Wong in the Mini Cooper, and Khaw Kim-sun a Toyota.
Just before the pair died, the helper said she did not see Wong carry a yoga ball to her car, when she and the daughter, who Maesaroh called Lily, got into the vehicle.
Dr Foo, who examined the bodies, told the court he found no physical injuries on either victim.
He estimated they probably died between 12.45pm and 2.45pm that day, a time period consistent with what the prosecution had earlier told the court.
For Wong, Foo said a postmortem examination found a carbon monoxide level in her blood of 50 per cent, or 10 per cent above the lethal level. It was 41 per cent in the daughter’s body.
The court previously heard that the gas, if inhaled abundantly, could cause vision impairment and even death.
Foo also said he found traces of antidepressants in Wong’s body, consistent with what he was told that she suffered from a mental illness.
The court previously heard that the wife knew about Khaw’s mistress, a student surnamed Lee, and had grown to accept it, but refused her husband’s request for a divorce.
The trial continues.