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Appeal court eyes changing conviction of Bayr’s killer to manslaughter

09 April 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

The Appeal Court may reduce the charge and sentence on Andrea Bay's killer on the ground of insanity

The Court of Appeal is looking to downgrade the murder conviction of a Pakistani guard to manslaughter for killing his 25-year-old Austrian-Filipina girlfriend nearly four years ago in Tuen Mun, on the ground of insanity.

Justice Andrew Macrae said at the continuation of the appeal hearing on Apr 9 of convicted killer Safdar Husnain, that he and fellow Justices Ian McWalters and Derek Pang are eyeing a reduction of the appellant’s life sentence to 10 years.

“We want an updated psychiatric report from [government psychiatrist] Dr Chow about the diminished responsibility of the applicant by reason of insanity” before finalizing the verdict, Justice Macrae said.

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The justices want to have by Apr 30 the updated psychiatric report from Chow addressing his current mental state and the damage he could do to the public if he was released.

Justice Macrae also asked the prosecutor to submit on May 4 a new medical report on the 30-year-old convict, who has been held in jail since the gruesome killing of Andrea Bayr in the early hours of Mar 29, 2016 at a bridge construction site.

The judge adjourned the hearing until May 7. 

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Husnain was sentenced to life in jail by Judge Kevin Zervos on Jan 31, 2018 after he was convicted of murder by a jury voting 6-1.

At the appeal hearing, Justice Macrae asked the prosecutor if he had any court in mind in case the justices allowed an appeal.

The prosecutor said none, adding that a retrial would not be necessary, citing a provision in Section 83 of the High Court rules.

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Barrister David Boyton, counsel of the appellant, agreed. He had asserted that the appropriate verdict was manslaughter due to Husnain’s brain damage arising from drug use.

During the murder trial in late 2017, the defense claimed that Husnain had been suffering from a drug-induced psychosis in which he had been hearing voices telling him Bayr, a bartender, was a witch who wanted to kill him.

The defense based its appeal on the ground that Judge Zervos did not due consideration to the ground of insanity in his direction to the jury.

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