Post Magazine

An explosion, a triple murder and a death sentence: the 'mystery blast' that shattered Kowloon Tsai gambling den in 1965

"Man Killed in Explosion - Mysterious Blast Shatters Hut in Kowloon Tsai," ran a South China Morning Post headline on September 22, 1965. "A 50-year-old man was killed and 23 people were injured, many of them seriously, in an explosion which occurred at 10.05 pm yesterday," the story continued, adding that the hut was believed to be a gambling den.

The death toll rose to three and the case was upgraded to a murder investigation, with two suspects arrested later that month. An October 13 article in the Post named them as unemployed men, Lau Pui, 35, and Kung Fat, 50.

In a Post reportdated November 5, a police detective, giving evidence at the hearing, described Kung's arrest: "There was a scar mark on Kung's left forehead and Kung was wearing a white shirt with blood stains on it [...] Kung gave his name and added that he was also called 'Pau Cheung Fat' (Firecracker Fat)."

Kung alleged in his statement that he had been instructed by Lau to make a bomb from white explosive powder, metal fragments and a firecracker fuse inside a metal container, which Lau had planted in the hut on the evening of September 21.

On December 14, the murder trial was ordered to proceed with a jury of six members. The four men and two women of the jury heard from witnesses, one of whom said that Lau was a "White Paper Fan" of the Kwong Luen Shing Triad Society. Another told the court that Lau, "a self-confessed drug addict", had admitted to setting off the explosion, "because he had not only been refused a job by Lau Fai [a stakeholder in the gambling den] but had also been publicly insulted by him", reported the Post on December 22.

It took the jury just 2½ hours to reach the verdict of guilty, according to a story in the Post on December 30, and the two men were sentenced to death. Both appealed the judgement. Kung, guilty of being an accessory before the fact, had his sentence commuted to 20 years' imprison­ment. Lau's sentence was upheld.

"Lau Pui (35), was hanged at Stanley Prison this morning for his part in the Kowloon Tsai hut explosion, which killed three people, on the night of September 21 last year," the Post reported on April 16, 1966.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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