A professor told police his daughter might have committed suicide because of stress when he was arrested on suspicion of murdering her and her mother with a gas-filled yoga ball, a court heard on Tuesday.
Khaw Kim-sun, 53, who has denied killing 16-year-old Lily Khaw Li-ling, and Wong Siew-fung, 47, said he and his wife had put the teenager under too much pressure.
Testifying in High Court, police sergeant Lam Kam-cheung said he had arrested Khaw Kim-sun outside his office at Chinese University – where Khaw was an associate professor in anaesthesiology – in May 2016.
The sergeant told the court that when he arrested Khaw Kim-sun on suspicion of murdering the pair by carbon monoxide poisoning, the defendant said: “I wanted to use the yoga ball to kill rats. There are so many rats in my home.
“I do not know why on May 22 [2015, the day the pair died] the yoga ball would end up in the car. Perhaps Lily wanted to commit suicide.”
In a video interview played in court on Tuesday, Khaw Kim-sun admitted filling the ball with carbon monoxide. However, he did not mention it immediately after the pair died, and only told police when he was arrested a year later.
Maybe I put pressure on her studies. It’s also possible that she might have had a disagreement with her mother
Lam also said Khaw Kim-sun told him Lily was the only other member of the family who knew about the gas, which is fatal if inhaled in excessive amounts, inside the exercise ball, and he had warned her about the danger.
“Maybe I put pressure on her studies,” Khaw, a doctor who also worked at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, said. “It’s also possible that she might have had a disagreement with her mother.”
Lily and her mother were found dead inside Wong’s yellow Mini Cooper at the Sai O Village bus stop in Ma On Shan. The yoga ball was found deflated inside the car.
After being arrested, the defendant told officers he had planned to pump the carbon monoxide into drains, through which the rats entered his house.
However, it emerged in court on Tuesday that during the interview officers told Khaw they had found a plug for a yoga ball in his room.
The video showed a female police officer grilling Khaw about the plug, which was found in his three-storey village house in Sai Kung.
“We found this stopper inside a drawer in your room,” the policewoman told him.
She went on to ask if the plug would fit the alleged murder weapon.
“I think so,” Khaw Kim-sun initially answered, before adding there could also be slight difference.
The suspect said he had mixed up the plugs for his three yoga balls at home before, and afterwards some plugs would not go back in properly.
During the police interview the professor cried as he told officers about meeting his wife for the first time when she was a nurse, and he was qualifying as a doctor in London, around 1989.
Khaw became an anaesthesiologist in 1993, and they married a year later. The first of four children, Khaw May-ling, their eldest daughter, was born soon after, and they moved to Hong Kong in 1996.
The defendant told police that his relationship with his wife began to deteriorate, and in recent years the marriage was plagued with emotional difficulties.
“This was also aggravated because May-ling was affected by aplastic anaemia in 2010,” he said, referring to a life-threatening illness his daughter had suffered.
He said the couple discussed divorce around 2012, but decided they could not cope looking after the children alone.
On the day before the alleged murder, Khaw, who was having an affair with his student, Shara Lee, said he went to see his lover before going to work, then took part in a tennis match.
The day his wife and daughter died he reported to duty as usual, he told police, only to receive a call at about 5pm from a friend who said his wife and daughter had been sent to the hospital where he was working.
He broke into tears when he recalled how he witnessed doctors performing resuscitation on his wife and daughter.
Prosecutors have suggested Khaw bought the gas through his university and brought it home in a yoga ball, before using it to commit the murders.
When asked in the video interview why he did not tell police about the ball sooner, he said he was afraid he would be arrested, leaving no one to take care of his surviving children.
“I feel very ashamed of my cowardly behaviour,” he said. “I was trying to hide [it], when a convenient excuse that the carbon monoxide came out of the car was suggested by many people.”
The case continues before Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling.
This article Malaysian professor told police he thought daughter had committed suicide when they came to arrest him first appeared on South China Morning Post