One afternoon 40 years ago, a 20-year-old aluminium window worker was looking for prey in the San Fat Estate area of Tuen Mun after work, and he took a fancy to a 13-year-old girl and followed her. Pushed her in when she entered the house, robbed her of about 100 yuan, and raped the girl. This crime of the workers has changed the fate of many people. More than 30 years later, it finally returned to him.

Although the police found the handprints of the suspected murderer at the scene, the technology of the year could not find the murderer in the vast sea of people. It wasn't until 25 years later that technology improved, and the murderer was finally locked down and arrested. However, in the 16 years following the incident, the victim suffered from depression and died at the age of 29. Although he is no longer alive, the prosecution still resolutely raises the charge, but the evidence is weak, and at one point he had no choice but to withdraw the charge.

The prosecution finally revisited the evidence and decided to adduce hearsay evidence and present the defendant again. The unsolved case came to an end when the defendant, Wong Chun-chuen, pleaded guilty to rape in the High Court last Tuesday (November 11) and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

A 40-year-old girl was raped by a strange man 13 years ago, and the police have not been able to solve the case. (Schematic diagram)

When the female victim reported the case, she reacted excitedly and left a foreshadowing for the case

The incident occurred on January 1983, 1, when the 20-year-old woman went to her sister's house alone, she went to the nearest police post to her home and told a policewoman what had happened. Police officers immediately investigated the flat and found tissues stained with blood and semen, three pairs of trousers, and a handprint suspected to belong to the suspect at the scene.

In the 80s, technology was not enough to solve crimes with fingerprints and palm prints

However, in the 80s of the last century, the comparison of fingerprints and palm prints still needs to be compared by human hands and naked eyes, even if there is strong evidence, but it is almost impossible to find the suspect from the sea of people.

She jumped to her death after leaving the hospital for the last time in 1999, ending her life for 29 years, and the offender who had assaulted her remained at large.

Belated technology has turned the case around

Twenty-five years later, technology has turned the case around. In 25, the Police upgraded the forensic detection system to enable more accurate comparison of fingerprints and palm prints. A veteran police officer said that although the police have all along had a classification system for fingerprints and palm prints, which can convert fingerprints and palm prints into words and numbers, they have always needed to be checked by hand and with the naked eye, and the accuracy has always been unsatisfactory. Later, computer technology improved, and the comparison process was faster and more accurate, bringing breakthroughs to cases that could not be solved in the past.

At the end of 2021, the police confirmed the identity of the person who made the palm print, and identified the chef Wang Jinquan, who was over 50 years old, and arrested Wang in Tsuen Wan in August 2021.

Although technology has brought a breakthrough to the case 25 years later, the female protagonist could not wait, and she died 16 years after the crime. (Schematic diagram)

After his arrest, the suspect confessed that he had robbed a girl

After his arrest, Wong also admitted that he had been robbing in the Tuen Mun area in the 80s in a similar manner, and was arrested and imprisoned. He also remembered or had robbed a girl between the ages of 13 and 15 or had behaved irrationally towards her, but he said he could not remember whether he had raped her.

San Fat Estate in Tuen Mun has long been demolished and a private housing estate has been built on the site. (File photo)

The evidence was incomplete, and the crime of rape was once withdrawn, and the evidence was re-examined

In 2021, the police formally charged Wang with rape and robbery, but at that time, the female victim had been dead for more than 20 years and there was no key witness, so it was technically difficult to sue Wang for rape, and she had no choice but to drop the charge a few months later.

It is learnt that the prosecution later examined the evidence, including the policewoman who interviewed the female victim at the police post that day. Although the policewoman is retired, she still remembers the incident and is willing to give evidence in court. However, the policewoman only learned about the incident from the female owner, she was not an eyewitness, and what she did was known to the owner could only be regarded as "hearsay" in law.

Hearsay evidence is generally difficult to adduce in court

"Hearsay evidence" refers to a confession in which a witness relays a statement from another person, and since the information is based on the information of a third party, for example, witness A claims that man B has told him that the defendant has killed someone, but B is not a witness in the case, the court will generally not accept what A learned from B, because the statement is only known by A from B, and the relevant content may be omitted and distorted, and the prosecution and defense cannot cross-examine the presenter (as in the example B), so it will not generally be accepted in a criminal trial.

Exceptionally, a statement may be cited: a statement made shortly after the incident

However, there are exceptions to the principle that "hearsay evidence" may still be applied where the time of the statement is closely related to the case, e.g. the statement made by the speaker to another person shortly after the occurrence of the case and the risk of falsity is low.

For example, someone called the police and panicked and said, "Someone cut me", and then hung up. Officers arrived at the scene shortly after, and the presenter was dead. In these circumstances, although the presenter cannot give evidence about the circumstances in which he reported to the police, the audio recording he left behind when he reported to the police was made shortly after the incident, together with his panicked appearance when he spoke, and together with other evidence in the case, even if it is "hearsay evidence", it may be used to present in court.

After reviewing the evidence, the prosecution decided to re-charge the defendant, Wong Chun-chuen, who eventually pleaded guilty in the High Court and was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.

The prosecution considered it appropriate to re-institute charges in this case

The prosecution re-examined the case, taking into account that the policewoman observed the woman's state at the time, such as her agitated and her hair was disheveled, and the victim's journey to the police post was only about 5 minutes, and considered that the policewoman's "hearsay evidence" met the exception, together with the evidence obtained from the evidence, such as fingerprints, etc., and finally decided to charge the defendant with rape again.

The defendant pleads guilty and does not need to call witnesses

The case was finally heard in the High Court, and the defendant, Wong Chun-chuen, opted to plead guilty to rape, which also saved the witnesses from appearing in court and re-examining the incident. It was revealed in court that Wang had six criminal records in the past, involving nine crimes, and his last crime was assault in 6 with intent to rob. However, after he was convicted and released from prison, he did not commit any further crimes, and his lawyer also said that Wang had reformed himself after the case and started a new page. Special Judge Chen Zhenglong eventually sentenced Wang to seven years in prison.

Confession of sin is one of the acts of letting go of guilt

Clinical psychologist Cheng Kin-wing said that he was not familiar with the facts of the case and it was difficult to comment on this, but he pointed out that if a person committed a crime or did something wrong when he was young, the guilt in it may cause the defendant to feel pain, and admitting guilt is one of the actions to let go of guilt.

In addition to her, the woman's experience was also very traumatic to her family. (Schematic diagram)

Both the victim and family members may have post-traumatic stress disorder

However, the impact of the incident on the woman and her family is beyond doubt. Clinical psychologist Chow Hoi-sze pointed out that the younger the victim is when she is sexually assaulted, the greater the impact, and it is not easy to get out of the haze. In general, victims will develop post-traumatic stress disorder, which may lead to depression and anxiety, loss of sense of security, difficulty in trusting others, low self-esteem, and feeling that they are "dirty", "broken", or feel that they have been destroyed.

The fact that the suspect has not been arrested makes the victim feel even more unfair Don't blame the victim

Chow Hoi-sze believes that the suspect in this case has not been arrested, and the victim will be worried about the danger again, and the suspect will come to her again, which will make her feel even more unfair, and she will not understand why the suspect can get away with it, which will also aggravate her condition. In addition, if the victim has experienced such an experience, he will be very panicked, and the people around him should be more accompanied, and do not rush to ask about the circumstances of the incident, "If the method is wrong, it will be a secondary injury to them (the victim)." Instead, they should be given time to digest and then speak slowly, and victims can be encouraged to see a doctor or psychologist and try to help them professionally.

Chow repeatedly reminded the people around him not to blame the victims, not to make them feel that they would be abandoned, but to let them understand that the fault must be the other party, not her, and hoped that the victims could slowly rebuild the incident. She said that this process often takes a long time.

The family experienced more than one pain point

Zou also said that the victim's family also experienced the incident and they were also at risk of post-traumatic sequelae. In the case of this case, after the family experienced the victim's sexual assault, they had to go in and out of the hospital frequently, and faced the family member's suicide, which was more than one pain point.

Talking about feelings is one way to put things down

Chow believes that it is not a good thing for family members to regard the incident as taboo and not talk about it again, "It will become a big thorn in the heart of [the family] or between their relationship." For example, if the family of the victim in this case wants to face such trauma, they may consider paying homage to the victim together to inform her that the prisoner has been arrested, or they can write a letter to the victim about their experiences and feelings over the years. "It's like there's a ritual to finish this. Chinese may not be able to talk too much about their feelings in front of people, and writing letters will be a method, and we will be able to let go of it a little later."

According to clinical psychologists, 90 per cent of sexual assault victims have acute stress reactions. (Schematic diagram)

Nine out of ten sexual assault victims have an acute stress response

Clinical psychologist Cheng Kin-wing also said that studies have pointed out that victims of sexual assault are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and more than 9 adults will have acute stress reactions two weeks after the incident, such as remembering the event, having nightmares, avoiding people, events and objects related to the day, having fear, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing and other physiological reactions.

Failure to arrest the suspect may cause negative emotions to the victim

He pointed out that it is no longer possible to know whether the victim has post-traumatic sequelae, but one-third of those affected by the traumatic event will have long-term post-traumatic sequelae, and some people will improve through treatment, but the degree of improvement is also affected by many factors. The suspect was arrested many years later, and some victims may feel insecure and have more negative thoughts and emotions as a result of the suspect's fugitive existence, but this cannot be generalised.

It is human nature that the family does not want to rehash the incident

He added that the victim's family members are also experiencing pain, and even if the offender has been brought to justice today, for the family members, the pain may not be fully recovered, and they may not want to talk about the incident again. Cheng said, "Of course they feel the same way, and they have experienced a pain, and I know that it is a normal reaction of a person, and I don't want to face it, I want to run away." But he pointed out that everyone has different ways of dealing with pain, some people will talk to someone, and some people may choose not to deal with it or not to discuss it.

It's Okay to find a way to live a normal life again

Zheng said: "We should emphasize respect for the parties involved, and it is best to use the method to make ourselves most comfortable. Even if there may be some pain, but as long as you find a way, you can live a good life, socialize, work, and live a normal life, and this is the goal of treatment, so that the impact of the incident on you can be minimized, in fact, it is already okay."

The murderer pleaded guilty after 13 years and was imprisoned for 40 years in prison for raping and robbing a 7-year-old girl 39 years ago The chef was withdrawn from the rape charge of the chef 13 years ago The police needed time to find witnesses and make a genetic comparison, and the case was adjourned for interrogation involving rape and robbery of a 38-year-old girl After 13 years, the police detained a man and was charged with two crimes