Yuen Long hair salon assistant claims self-defence as 17-year-old teenager is fatally killed in altercation, jury rules manslaughter

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Unite hair salon

6th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Yuen Long’s UNITE hair salon assistant is suspected of harboring animosity towards a female colleague after a disagreement over storing ice cream in the refrigerator. Months later, the assistant stepped on the colleague’s shoe, reigniting the conflict. Concerned for her safety, the colleague called a friend to accompany her as she finished work. Upon the assistant’s return to the salon, a confrontation ensued, resulting in a 17-year-old teenager, who was present as the colleague’s companion, being fatally attacked. The hair salon assistant denied the charge of murder, and the jury, after deliberation, unanimously found the assistant not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. The case has been adjourned until next Monday (11th) for sentencing.

The defendant, Cheung Ban, 31 years old, was charged with the murder of Wong Chi-wai, 17 years old, on 6th July, 2019. While the defendant denied the charge of murder, he admitted to the charge of manslaughter, which the prosecution accepted.

According to the prosecution’s case, the defendant worked as a hair salon assistant in Yuen Long. Several months prior to the incident, the defendant had a dispute with a female colleague named Tai Chak-ning. On the evening of the incident, at around 8pm, the defendant accidentally stepped on Tai’s shoe in the salon, leading to a heated argument. The defendant then retaliated by splashing water from a sprayer on Tai’s head, and Tai slapped the defendant.

The salon owners attempted to mediate the situation and escorted the defendant inside the shop. Shortly after, Wong and two other men, who were not acquainted with Tai, arrived at the salon. Dai and the others went to the first floor of the salon to find the defendant, while the defendant and another male, exchanged blows outside. Amidst the chaos, the defendant pulled out a knife from his pocket and brandished it towards Wong and the others. In the ensuing commotion, one of the men struck the defendant with a bat-like object, while the defendant repeatedly stabbed Wong.

After leaving the salon, Wong collapsed, and passersby immediately contacted the police. He was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead around 10pm. A forensic examination revealed that Wong had over 20 injuries on his head, chest, and hands, with the cause of death attributed to stab wounds and lacerations to the chest.

After his arrest, the defendant claimed self-defence and expressed that he had no intention to kill. He left Hong Kong for mainland China less than an hour after the incident and returned on the 16th of the same month when he was subsequently apprehended. During cautionary statements, the defendant stated, “I acted in self-defence, I had no intention to kill him.”

Tai Chak-ning testified earlier, revealing that several months before the incident, she had purchased ice cream and intended to store it in the salon’s refrigerator, but the defendant objected, leading to a profanity-laden argument.

Additionally, the defendant had stepped on Tai’s shoe during the incident, provoking another verbal altercation. The defendant retaliated by dousing her with water from a sprayer. Prosecution presented closed-circuit television footage, wherein the defendant was heard saying to Tai, “Do you want to fight? I’ll be back in ten minutes.”