A Gambian man accused of murdering his wife two years ago admitted to police that he had physically struggled with her in order to defend himself during an altercation, but said he had forgotten whether he struck her before she died, a Hong Kong court heard on Wednesday.
Opening the case before a High Court jury, prosecutor Mark Wei Ho-tong rejected defendant Touray Ousainou’s claim of self-defence, citing evidence suggesting that his wife, Adele Melano Cuyacot, had suffered extensive injuries and died of suffocation.
“We say the only irresistible inference is that it was the defendant who inflicted the injuries on the deceased, and it was he who killed the deceased,” Wei said.
Ousainou, a 39-year-old unemployed man from Gambia, has denied murdering 40-year-old Cuyacot, who was from the Philippines, on or about April 10, 2019.
Wei said the pair were living together in a subdivided unit in a tenement building in To Kwa Wan “at the time when the deceased met her tragic death”.
Their neighbour said he had heard the sound of fighting coming from the unit, coupled with Cuyacot’s screams for Ousainou to stop, at around 4am on April 9, Wei said. The neighbour knocked on their door, after which the noise briefly died down, only to resume again for another hour after he returned to his flat.
Wei said the neighbour was later woken up by the sound of fighting and objects hitting the wall at about 9am, but went back to sleep. When he woke again at noon, the neighbouring unit was quiet.
At about 9.30pm on April 10, Ousainou went to Wong Tai Sin Police Station and reported that he had fought with his wife and that she had subsequently died, but he denied killing her, Wei said.
Firefighters and paramedics arrived at the unit at 10.04pm to find Cuyacot lying on her back in the air-conditioned bedroom, her naked body wrapped in a white bedsheet, with a Koran and a string of beads placed on her abdomen and music playing in the background.
She had no vital signs and was certified dead at 10.11pm.
Based on her rectal temperature, forensic pathologist Dr Cheung Hiu-ni estimated her time of death to be between 2.03am and 2.03pm on April 10, Wei said.
Following his arrest, the court heard, Ousainou told investigators that he and his wife – whom he married in a religious ceremony at a mosque – had a fight while they were alone in the unit earlier in the day and that her death had been an accident.
He said the deceased had been very emotional, so he used his hands to protect himself, but did not remember whether he had hit her in the fray, adding that she had probably fallen onto a cupboard.
He said they then went to sleep, but when he woke up, he found her body was stiff and knew that she was dead. It was then that he wrapped her body with the bedsheet and placed the Koran and beads on her out of respect.
Wei said a postmortem examination found extensive reddish bruises all over the deceased’s face – except around her nose and mouth – multiple bloody spots on her eyeball and inside her mouth, and patchy abrasions on her nose, cheek and the underside of her chin. She also had multiple lacerations on her scalp, fractured ribs and defensive injuries on her hands and forearms.
Dr Cheung concluded the cause of death was smothering, the court heard.
Wei will call his first witness when the trial continues before Mr Justice Alex Lee Wan-tang today Thursday.
Source: South China Morning Post