Yoga ball murder trial: Malaysian professor told police he thought daughter had committed suicide

A former professor accused of using a gas-filled yoga ball to murder his wife and daughter told police his daughter might have committed suicide because of stress, a Hong Kong court heard on Tuesday.

Khaw Kim-sun, 53, who is accused of killing 16-year-old Lily Khaw Li-ling, and Wong Siew-fung, 47, made the claim when he was arrested, and suggested he and his wife had put Lily Khaw under too much pressure over her studies.

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, on suspicion of murdering the pair by carbon monoxide poisoning.

The sergeant told the court that when he arrested Khaw Kim-sun, 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.”

Lam Kam-cheung, also said that Khaw Kim-sun told him Lily Khaw 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 being around it.

Khaw Kim-sun, a doctor who also worked at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.

“Maybe I put pressure on her studies,” he said. “It’s also possible that she might have had a disagreement with her mother.”

Lily Khaw and Wong were found dead inside her mother’s yellow Mini Cooper at the Sai O Village bus stop in Ma On Shan. The yoga ball was found deflated inside the car.

Maybe I put pressure on her studies. It’s also possible that she might have had a disagreement with her mother
Khaw Kim-sun

After being arrested, the defendant told officers he had planned to pump the carbon monoxide into drains, through which the rats would usually entered his house.

However, it emerged in court on Tuesday that during the interview officers told Khaw Kim-sun they had found a plug for a yoga ball in his room.

A video of the interview was played in court, and showed a female police officer grilling Khaw Kim-sun 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 police woman 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 that 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, in 1989.

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Khaw Kim-sun 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 in about 2012, but decided they could not cope with looking after the children alone.

On the day before the alleged murder, Khaw Kim-sun, who was having an affair with his student, Shara Lee, at the time, said he went to see his lover before going to work, and then took part in a tennis match afterwards.

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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 Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin.

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.

The case continues before Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling.

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