Lily Khaw Li Ling, the teenage daughter of a Malaysian professor accused of a double murder, never spoke of committing suicide, her friend told the High Court in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Sarah Niu said Lily, her schoolmate at Rennaissance College in Ma On Shan, looked forward to the future and aspired to be a journalist.
Niu was testifying at the trial of Khaw Kim Sun, 53, who is accused of murdering Lily, 16, and his wife Wong Siew Fing, 47, with a leaking gas-filled yoga ball left in his wife’s car. Mother and daughter died on May 22, 2015.
The associate professor of anaesthesiology at Chinese University has denied the charges and claimed instead that his daughter committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
But Niu told the court on Thursday that suicide was not something Lily spoke about with her or their friends.
Prosecutor Andrew Bruce SC asked her: “Was suicide ever discussed?”
Niu, who described Lily as the most “rational” among her friends, replied firmly: “No.”
She said they met in 2014 after Lily transferred to Renaissance College. Lily sometimes complained that the counsellor in her previous school had not been helpful, and said some of her friends had mental problems.
“We discussed plans for the future, both immediate and long-term,” said Niu, now a first-year engineering student at the University of Sydney.
Aside from mentioning her dreams about journalism, Lily told Niu in 2015 she wanted to take part with her in an international academic competition, the World Scholar’s Cup.
Niu also told the court Lily did not seem bothered that her father had been having an affair. The court had heard Khaw’s lover was his children’s Chinese tutor, Shara Lee.
On the day Lily died, the friends exchanged phone text messages.
Niu said she sent her friend a message in the afternoon to ask her out for burger, but Lily replied that she had homework to do and suggested going out another day.
They then chatted about schoolwork, and Niu told Lily she had been exempted from doing an assignment.
Lily replied: “Congratulations.”
That one-word text, at 2.15pm, was the last time Niu heard from her friend.
About an hour later, Lily was found with her mother in their car, parked at the Sai O Village bus stop in Ma On Shan. They were taken to Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin and pronounced dead.
Another witness on Thursday was police officer Chan Ching-lun, who told the court that on the day they died, he found an unplugged grey yoga ball in the car and it had a puncture of “several centimetres”.
A year later, he said, he found a white yoga ball stopper in a drawer at Khaw’s home.
Government forensic scientist Wong Koon-hung, who had examined the vehicle, said he found no traces of carbon monoxide inside the car.
The case continues before Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling.