body thrown out with garbage

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    Monday, October 18, 2004

    Old man lay dead for five months
    Police are horrified by case of pensioner who was thrown away with rubbish


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    Police and welfare groups expressed alarm yesterday over the death of a man whose body lay undiscovered for up to five months in his New Territories home.
    The death of Au Yeung Wan-shing, 74, was only discovered when his remains were thrown out with the rubbish by a labourer hired to clean out his apparently empty two-room home in Sha Kok Mei so a new tenant could move in.

    Although people live just 15 metres away, no one checked on him.

    Police found the man, who lived on social security payments, last withdrew money in May. An autopsy will be carried out today.

    Au Yeung's death was only discovered when the landlord, a distant relative, found the home seemingly abandoned last week and hired a mainland labourer to clear it out for a new tenant.

    The labourer, who police are trying to trace, threw the home's entire contents, including the body, down a wooded bank outside. Police were called on Thursday when the new lodger saw body parts sticking out of the debris. They dug through the undergrowth for 12 hours to recover the remains, but one arm is still missing.

    "We have a lot of veteran police officers who are deeply shocked by this case. No one has come across anything like this before," said Sai Kung divisional commander Mark Johnson.

    "The police operation was hazardous. Officers had to work in the heat in an area infested with mosquitoes and flies. The working conditions were extremely unpleasant and stressful."

    Officers said they were horrified that no one had checked on the pensioner to see if he was all right.

    "We encourage neighbours to keep an eye on each other to try to prevent crime, but there is a social aspect to this as well," Chief Inspector Johnson said. "If you have a closer community, the chances of something like this occurring are also reduced."

    Society for Community Organisations director Ho Hei-wah said: "This case is very shocking. Traditionally in the villages, relationships are very strong among the neighbours."

    Mr Ho said many indigenous villagers who rented out their houses were "only concerned about the land rate and making money", whereas expatriates moving into villages like Sha Kok Mei "enjoy the environment, but they are not moving there to integrate in the community".

    Hong Kong Council of Social Services executive director Christine Fang Meng-sang said: "There should be additional resources and support for these individuals. What happened in Sha Kok Mei is the nightmare of many poor elderly people living on their own."

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