A debt-ridden former anti-graft officer was jailed for two years on Tuesday for burning charcoal at home while his wife and twin sons were asleep.
Yung Chi-wai, 51, earlier pleaded guilty to one count of causing a noxious item to be taken so as to endanger his wife Wang Ling-ling’s life and two charges of wilful ill-treatment causing injury to his children.
The former senior investigative officer, from the Independent Commission Against Corruption, was trying to kill himself in their Kwun Tong home on October 30, 2017, after plunging HK$7 million into debt (US$1.3 million).
Mr Justice Patrick Li Hon-leung accepted Yung had no intention to harm his family and was pushed over the edge by mounting stress. But he labelled Yung’s behaviour “selfish”.
“To be left where you are is of your own making,” Li said.
The court heard a security guard at the Park Metropolitan building spotted smoke coming from Yung’s flat and knocked on the door, waking Wang up to extinguish the burning coals.
Li said it was fortunate his wife and the two children were not seriously hurt. He also noted they had forgiven Yung.
Yung joined the ICAC in 1994 and was promoted to senior investigative officer, before leaving to become a private investor.
But the change of career did not work out. His wife began to suspect from February 2017 that Yung, who had a gambling problem, was having financial difficulties because he had been paying the rent late and cut back on her allowance, the court heard.
The judge said he accepted that Yung had been a diligent individual before he hit a block in his investigative career.
Since then, he said, Yung had been running away from reality, before he made the mistake that landed him in the court, in an episode the judge referred to as regrettable.
On the night of the incident, Yung moved the charcoal to the room he shared with his son, so that could see his child one last time, before losing consciousness.
His wife woke up to find charcoal burning inside the room where the husband and the elder son slept. She quickly extinguished the fire and roused the son. Yung, who remained unconscious, was rushed to hospital.
Yung later told police officers he was HK$7 million in debt and only meant to kill himself so that his family could live off his insurance.
If you, or someone you know, are having suicidal thoughts, help is available.
For Hong Kong, dial +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans or +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on +1 800 273 8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page
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