Man dies after suspected drugging during sex at Best Western Plus Hotel in TST, police reveal additional Chinese victim and arrest 2 men including West Kowloon Emergency Unit officer

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17th March 2023 – (Hong Kong) On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 15th, a Best Western Plus Hotel Kowloon employee in Tsim Sha Tsui district made a grim discovery. During a routine check of the hotel’s rooms, the employee stumbled upon the body of a 25-year-old male guest, suspected to have fallen victim to foul play. The police, alerted to the discovery at 1 pm that day, promptly transferred the case to the West Kowloon Serious Crime Unit for further investigation.

As authorities delved deeper into the case, a picture of a disturbing sequence of events began to emerge. Reports suggest that the deceased had shared a hotel room with a homosexual man the night before, a detail which investigators believe may be linked to the murder. Further investigation revealed that the suspect, a 28-year-old man, had arranged to meet up with a mainland Chinese man through a gay dating platform on the same night as the murder. The suspect then booked a room at the Kowloon Hotel on Nathan Road, where it is alleged that he drugged the Chinese man, who subsequently passed out during sexual activity. Another local man reportedly joined in, leading authorities to suspect that the victim had been gang-raped.

Room in Kowloon Hotel (For illustration purpose only)

The police acted swiftly, arresting two men on Thursday, 16th March. The first, the aforementioned 28-year-old suspect, was linked to the murder, while the second was a police officer from the Emergency Unit Kowloon West, who was found to have engaged in sexual activity with the drugged Chinese man. After the suspect left the hotel room, another 31-year-old local man reportedly entered and engaged in sexual activity with the victim. When the mainland Chinese man regained consciousness, a third local man claimed to be a friend of the suspect and had been asked to look after him. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of “administering drugs to facilitate unlawful activity”. The police also discovered several vials of ‘GBL’ date-rape drugs inside the room of Kowloon Hotel during their investigation.

The male police officer from the Emergency Unit Kowloon West who is one of the suspects arrested.
The male police officer from the Emergency Unit Kowloon West who is one of the suspects arrested.

The investigation revealed that the deceased had checked into the Best Western Plus Hotel Kowloon hotel room with the suspect, who had subsequently left after a few hours, taking the deceased’s phone with him. The police have not ruled out the possibility that the deceased may also have been drugged, and are conducting a forensic investigation to determine the cause of death.

Sources have since come forward to suggest that the 28-year-old suspect had been involved in multiple cases of drugging and robbing gay men in recent weeks. The police are currently investigating whether the second man, the member of the West Kowloon Emergency Unit, was involved in the drugging or had any knowledge of the incident. Under Hong Kong law, anyone who uses drugs to incapacitate someone for the purposes of engaging in sexual activity can be charged with a criminal offence, with a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

As the investigation continues, the police have urged anyone who may have been victimised by the suspect to come forward and report their experiences. With a case as harrowing and complex as this, the authorities will need all the information they can gather to ensure that justice is served.

Meanwhile in 2001, γ-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), a date rape drug, was classified as a controlled and dangerous substance. GHB is a colourless and odourless liquid that can be difficult to detect when mixed with a beverage. Both men and women should exercise caution when accepting drinks from strangers in settings such as bars, dance parties, and other social gatherings. Abuse or overuse of GHB can have severe consequences, including but not limited to coma, nausea, respiratory difficulties, shock, and death.

According to information from the Narcotics Division, GHB is a depressant and is available in liquid form (also available in powder form) with a slight salty taste or no taste at all. Inhaling or abusing this drug can lead to drowsiness, nausea, visual disturbances, loss of consciousness, convulsions, severe respiratory difficulties, and even coma or death when mixed with alcohol. There have been many sexual assault and accidental death cases linked to the use of GHB. In 2001, the Hong Kong government classified GHB as a controlled and dangerous substance, and possession or use of GHB without legal authorisation may result in a prison sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to HK$1 million. Those who manufacture GHB may face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of up to HK$5 million.

Furthermore, gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) is a precursor to GHB and is a nearly identical substance. Although GBL can be legally sold as an industrial solvent, once it enters the human body, it can be converted into GHB. In 2019, the High Court of Hong Kong established an important sentencing guideline for the trafficking of GBL, which can be used as a tool for sexual assault. Although the defence argued that GBL should be treated as a sedative, the judge ruled that the sentencing guideline should be 1.5 times that of sedatives, given the potential for GBL to be used for sexual assault.