Tsui Po-ko

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Tsui Po-ko
Tsui Po-ko.jpg
PC Tsui Po-ko
Born17 May 1970
Shaowu, Fujian, China
Died17 March 2006(2006-03-17) (aged 35)
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
OccupationPolice constable
Criminal statusDeceased (killed during ambush on fellow officer)
Spouse(s)Lee Po-ling (1997-2006; his death)
Children1 daughter
Criminal chargeRobbery, murder

Tsui Po-ko (Chinese: 徐步高) (17 May 1970 – 17 March 2006) was a police constable in the Hong Kong Police Force who was implicated in a number of crimes, including bank robbery and murder.

He died when he and another police constable shot each other in a gun battle in a Tsim Sha Tsui subway. The inquest into the events leading up to his death aroused great interest in Hong Kong, as it unravelled a string of intriguing events, and revealed the secret life of a policeman with a delusional state of mind.[1]

On 25 April 2007, the five-person jury in the Coroner's court unanimously decided that Tsui was responsible for injuring one and killing two fellow police officers and a bank security guard, on three separate occasions. The jury returned a verdict that he had been "lawfully killed" by fellow officer Tsang Kwok-hang in a shootout.[2] The inquest lasted 36 days, one of the longest ever inquests in Hong Kong.

Assistant Police Commissioner John Lee said that this was "an exceptional case".[3] Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu called it "the most difficult" inquest for a jury he had ever encountered.[4]


Tsui was the elder of two children born in Shaowu, Fujian, and arrived in Hong Kong in 1978 with his mother. His father and brother arrived a year later. He attended the Kwun Tong Government Industrial Secondary School (now Kwun Tong Kung Lok Government Secondary School). After graduation, he had several jobs, including a spell with the Royal Hong Kong Regiment.

Tsui joined the Royal Hong Kong Police in 1993; he regarded it as a well paid job with good benefits, and was a police constable for 13 years until his death in 2006.[5] He was an outstanding cadet at the Hong Kong Police College, having won the "silver whistle".[6]

Tsui was an excellent marksman. In 1993, he scored full marks in target shooting as well as simulated bank robbery shooting. From 2001 to 2005, in the tests held three times a year, he would score a faultless 48 points. According to shooting range records, he been trained to shoot left-handed. He had once claimed to a superior that he was ambidextrous.[7]

From 1996 to 2001, Tsui made four attempts at the 'Police Constable/Senior Police Constable to Sergeant Promotion Qualifying Examination',[8] He scored 68 marks in his 2000 attempt, earning him an interview.[9] His stubbornness and difficulty in communication meant that he was never promoted.[6] However, since 1999, he had given up applying for promotion. From then on until 2003, Tsui applied three times to join the Airport Security Unit, but failed. He failed a personality assessment during the first attempt, and subsequently failed because of insufficient fitness. Between 2002 and 2005, he was attached to the Tsing Yi district.

Tsui's wife, Lee Po-ling, works at the Social Welfare Department as a social security assistant. The couple met when she worked as a sales assistant at the airport, and Tsui was also stationed there. They married in 1997 and they had a daughter in 2000.[10]

In October 2001, Tsui and his wife appeared together in a couples version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on ATV and won HK$60,000, and they claimed they would donate some of the money to charity.[11]

Tsui, who was an avid sportsman, was an Oxfam Trailwalker, participated in marathons, and also liked paragliding. Unbeknownst to his wife, he would go to Mong Kok and Shenzhen weekly to frequent massage parlours, karaoke bars, and prostitutes.[12] Also a habitual heavy gambler, Tsui was known to have made a HK$75,000 wager on Japan to win the 2004 Asian Cup final at odds of 2.8:1 on 7 August 2004.[13]

First murder[edit]

Tsui was found responsible for murdering constable Leung Shing-yan (Chinese: 梁成恩) and stealing his revolver in March 2001.[4] The 24-year-old Leung, who was engaged, had been on the force for five years.[14][15]

At 12:05 on 14 March 2001, the Lei Muk Shue Police Station received a call from an unknown man who complained of excessive noise coming from a flat at Shek Wai Kok Estate. Leung responded to the call alone as his partner was still having lunch.[15] His final radio call was received at 12:25 when he reported that he had arrived at the flat and nobody was responding to his knocks.[15] He was subsequently attacked, struggling with his assailant to prevent his revolver being snatched, but was shot five times at close range.[14][16] Leung took three bullets in the head and two in the back at Flat 552, Shek To House Block B.[6] Under police guard, paramedics wearing bulletproof vests rushed Leung to Yan Chai Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.[15] His revolver, a fully loaded Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver, a speedloader, and one extra clip of six bullets were missing.[14]

The noise complaint was apparently bogus, and was made from an untraceable mobile phone. The police suspected that the officer was lured to the scene for his gun.[14] Heavily armed police locked down the building and mounted a search.[15] Some 3,000 people, of which 2,000 police officers, were interviewed by the police, yet the perpetrator escaped detection.[17] Later, forensic tests found that the DNA on a mask left at the crime scene matched Tsui's.[18]

PC Leung was survived by his parents and a younger brother and sister.[14] His wedding was to have been held in May. His funeral in Hung Hom was attended by top officials including Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and Police Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui. Leung was buried at Gallant Garden.[19] In 2002, he was posthumously awarded the Medal for Bravery (Silver) in recognition of his courage and "gallantry of an extremely high order".[16][20]

Bank robbery[edit]

On 5 December 2001, Tsui planned and carried out armed bank robbery of the Hang Seng Bank branch at Belvedere Garden in Tsuen Wan, in which about HK$500,000 was stolen, and a Pakistani security guard was killed.[6]

At 12:10, a lone masked robber burst into the bank. Watchman Zafar Iqbal Khan, aged 31, struggled with the man. He was shot three times, in the head, body and wrist, and died instantly.[21][22] The assailant jumped over the counter and snatched money, fleeing with HK$490,000 as well as US$1,000.[21] He fled onto Castle Peak Road and then into the Belvedere Garden shopping arcade, escaping through another exit. Police evacuated the shopping centre and launched a manhunt but failed to catch the robber.[21]

The police located several domestic helpers who witnessed the robber removing his balaclava following the crime. With their help the police produced a facial composite image of the suspect that was distributed to frontline officers.[23]

The perpetrator was described as a man with short hair and about 1.8 m tall, whom Assistant Police Commissioner Yam described as a "calm, cold-blooded and brutal robber". A HK$2 million reward was issued.[24] Immediately following the robbery the police noted that the murder weapon appeared to be a police service revolver.[21]

Later on, it was revealed that Tsui matched the description of the perpetrator as captured on closed circuit television; key pieces of evidence were a red T-shirt, Mizuno brand shoes[6] and the fact that footage showed the killer to be a left-handed gunman. He was placed near the scene by the police: Tsui boarded a bus from Yat Tung Estate in Tung Chung at 11:11 using the Octopus card issued to his wife; it was clocked in a minibus heading to Tsuen Wan at 11:53.[22]

A red T-shirt carrying a similar distinctive logo as captured on CCTV was found at Tsui's home after his death. The T-shirt, bearing the logo of the Yinchuan International Motor-cycle Travel Festival was a gift to Tsui by the club secretary during his visit to the show in 2000. An expert witness identified the T-shirt as having been worn inside-out during the robbery.[25] Ballistics identified the gun used in the robbery as having been a police service revolver taken from murdered police officer Leung Shing-yan.[6]

Zafar Iqbal Khan was a father of four who lived with his brothers in Kwai Chung. His wife and children lived in Pakistan.[21] During the robbery he cocked his Remington shotgun after being shot twice but did not have a chance to fire his weapon before being killed.[26] A ceremony, attended by his relatives, friends, and bank chairman Vincent Cheng, was held at the Kowloon Mosque on 7 December before his body was returned to Pakistan later in the day.[26] Khan was posthumously awarded the Medal for Bravery (Gold) for "selfless bravery of the highest order", which was accepted on his behalf by his wife.[16][27][20]

Financial irregularities[edit]

An investigation by the Criminal Intelligence Bureau into Tsui's financial status from January 2000 to March 2006 revealed he had a total of 19 personal banking and investment accounts hidden from his wife. Total assets were HK$2,977,513.[28] Seven personal and 12 investment accounts were opened under his name around mid-February in 2002, using a friend's address. Between February 2002 and October 2004, Tsui deposited HK$557,718 into the 19 accounts which could not be accounted for. All transactions were in cash.[28] It was reported that Tsui was active in foreign exchange market, commodities, securities, funds, and margin trading, and had lost a total of HK$371,982 in those investments.[28]

Tsui and his wife bought one flat in August 1997, and paid HK$574,800 in cash.[28] Two years later, he bought a flat at Tung Chung Crescent with a HK$396,173 down payment, paying monthly instalments of HK$17,778 for a first and a second mortgage. The mortgages were paid off in just five years, HK$388,151 in 2001 and HK$500,000 in 2004.[28]

The police alleged that the transactions were inconsistent with a constable's salary, and that the HK$500,000 unexplained cash would be consistent with the bank's loss during the heist in 2001.[28]

Subway ambush[edit]

The pedestrian subway where the shootout took place

Tsui was also responsible for ambushing two police officers in a Tsim Sha Tsui pedestrian subway, triggering a shoot-out on 17 March 2006.[4]

28-year-old Constable Sin Ka-keung (Chinese: 冼家強), survivor of the shoot-out, said that he and 33-year-old Constable Tsang Kwok-hang (Chinese: 曾國恒) were ambushed in the underpass at the junction of Austin and Canton Roads. PC Sin had seen a man lurking on the northern stairs of the subway & attemped to confront him before he was shot in the face. The attacker then proceeded to shoot PC Tsang. PC Tsang was shot in the head, while PC Sin sustained gunshot wounds in the face and leg. Upon doing so, PC Sin got up and attemped to draw his pistol. The attacker then tried to snatch his revolver.[6] Tsui had started the exchange. PC Sin returned two shots, but missed.[3] PC Sin grappled with the man and fired two shots before both of them slumped to the floor. [6] PC Tsang was able to get up & shoot Tsui five times in the torso killing him before he later succumbed to his own wounds.

The police confirmed that the rusty revolver found beside Tsui's body to be the gun stolen from the late PC Leung in 2001.[17]

PC Sin was later awarded the Medal for Bravery (Gold) for his actions and later would write a book about his experience.[29][30]

Mental state[edit]

As the inquiry continued, Tsui was found to be an ambitious officer who often topped his class and did well in assessment tests. However, he was often denied promotions or opportunities to join elite units, such as the Airport Security Unit.[31]

He was not media shy, as was demonstrated by his appearance on a television game show. He was happily photographed when he won the chance to buy his flat in a draw. He was again happy to be photographed during the democracy rally on 1 July 2004 dressed in traditional Chinese funeral style ("披麻戴孝").[32]

An associate professor of social science at the City University of Hong Kong suggested that Tsui, like many criminals, did not know how to face frustration, and chose instead to take an illegal path in obtaining socially approved goals, such as money, prestige or recognition. It was suggested that the police force paid more attention to talented officers who fail to gain promotion, and recommended that there should be independent and confidential psychological counselling services for such troubled or frustrated officers.[4]

A Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal profiler believed that Tsui's behaviour fit into most of the definitions of schizotypal personality disorder, while an expert from the Queensland University of Technology said Tsui's personality profile matched that of a serial killer who believed he was destined to change the world, probably tried to rise above his self-perceived unremarkable life by playing God, by taking lives.[6]


The Tsui Po-ko case has inspired some film and television productions, including:




  1. ^ Hong Kong nears end of lurid murder case (AFP), The Nation, April 2007, Retrieved 7 July 2007
  2. ^ AFP story, Hong Kong policeman blamed for killings, Channel News Asia, 25 April 2007
  3. ^ a b Andrea Chiu, Rogue cop planned ambush, say police Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 21 March 2006
  4. ^ a b c d Una So, Tsui killed two officers and guard, jury finds Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 26 April 2007
  5. ^ "Hong Kong 'devil cop' kills colleagues", Brisbane Times, 25 April 2007
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Una So, Slain officer's path of no return Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 7 April 2007
  7. ^ "Ambidextrous marksman Tsui played the markets with proxy address" Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine., Sing Tao Daily, 27 March 2007 (in Chinese)
  8. ^ In 1996, Tsui gained a "Credit";a "Pass" in 1999;a "Distinction" in 2000 and "Great Credit" in 2001 「徐步高仕途受挫現怪行 狂抄「牛肉乾」 羅湖橋呼『平反六四』」, Ming Pao, 27 March 2007 (in Chinese)
  9. ^ "Diligent duo net exam distinctions", "OffBeat-News", 22 Nov 2000
  10. ^ Una So, Wife knew nothing of Tsui's dark side Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 18 April 2007
  11. ^ '"Millionaire" couple wins 60k who said will donate to charity kills 2 months later', The Sun, 21 March 2006
  12. ^ 徐步高的生前好友,前警員李藝在庭上作供指出,兩人在1999年至2005年間多次相約到內地嫖妓,每次開支約500 元;兩人亦定期光顧旺角花園街一間娛樂場所,平均每月約1至2次。 "Good friend reveals Tsui's penchant for gambling and prostitutes, weekly visits to Mong Kok and Shenzhen from 1999"Ming Pao, 24 March 2007 (in Chinese)
  13. ^ 徐 步高的生前好友,前警員李藝在庭上作供指出,在本地賭波未合法化的2002年,徐步高曾主動向他詢問世界盃決賽外圍投 -{注}-的方法,並表示要投-{注}-5萬元,李遂建議徐向澳門投-{注}-。兩人於2004年亞洲盃的決賽賽事贏得22.4萬元,對於徐步高突然有大 筆現鈔投-{注}-賭波,李藝稱當時沒主動問及,並相信是徐平日投資或積蓄所得。"$75,000 Asian Cup bet repays $210,000", Ming Pao, 24 March 2007 (in Chinese)
  14. ^ a b c d e Matthew Lee and Eddie Luk, Officer 'lured to his death' Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 15 March 2001
  15. ^ a b c d e Lo, Clifford (15 March 2001). "Officer lured to his death: Massive manhunt launched as constable killed in Tsuen Wan housing estate after bogus call". South China Morning Post. p. 1.
  16. ^ a b c Joanilho, Marcal; Ma, Raymond (30 June 2002). "Bravery awards for fallen heroes". South China Morning Post. p. 4.
  17. ^ a b Tsui eluded suspicion in Leung case Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 21 March 2006
  18. ^ Government pathologist Pang Chi-ming gave the probability of another person with matching DNA as 1:1.4 billion. "DNA match to Tsui on mask found in Shek To House shooting" Ming Pao 4 April,2007 (in Chinese)
  19. ^ Lee, Stella; Lewis, Tommy (27 March 2001). "Suspect in constable's killing arrested on day of funeral". South China Morning Post. p. 1.
  20. ^ a b "2002 Honours List". Hong Kong Government. 30 June 2002.
  21. ^ a b c d e Lo, Clifford (6 December 2001). "Guard killed in $.5m bank raid". South China Morning Post. p. 1.
  22. ^ a b Una So, Octopus card pieces together Tsui's movements Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 13 April 2007
  23. ^ Lo, Clifford (7 December 2001). "Bank guard's murder condemned". South China Morning Post. p. 3.
  24. ^ Eddie Luk, $2m reward for bank killer info Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 12 December 2001
  25. ^ 「徐步高神秘紅衣寧夏尋源 三角標誌與劫匪紅衣相似 警千里追查」《明報》,2007年3月15日
  26. ^ a b Lo, Clifford (8 December 2001). "Death stirs debate over armed guards". South China Morning Post. p. 7.
  27. ^ "Chief Executive presents honours and awards". Hong Kong Government. 12 October 2002.
  28. ^ a b c d e f Una So, Slain cop had assets worth nearly $3m Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 11 April 2007
  29. ^ http://www.police.gov.hk/offbeat/1011/eng/1303.html
  30. ^ https://m.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1436571/policeman-who-survived-sensational-2006-devil-cop-shoot-out-launches%3famp=1
  31. ^ Slain officer had major ambitions, The Standard, 27 March 2007 Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  32. ^ 'High profile participation in march as a challenge to the Government' (Article with photo), The Sun,22 March 2006, Retrieved 7 July 2007
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 August 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  35. ^ http://illusive-serenity.forumotion.net/t26-the-men-of-justice