April 2, 2011

AUSTRALIA: Wife, 92, to stand trial for murder

BRISBANE, NSW / Brisbane Times / News / April 2, 2011

By Les Kennedy

AT 92, Clara Tang is accused of bludgeoning, suffocating and stabbing her 98-year-old husband to death.
Now she has become the oldest woman in Australia to be committed to stand trial for murder.

Poison fear ... alleged killer Clara Tang and her husband.

After almost 70 years of marriage, Mrs Tang - suffering dementia - allegedly killed Ching Yung Tang in their plush sixth-floor unit in the Connaught apartment complex overlooking Sydney's Hyde Park on March 12, 2010.

Documents tendered by police detail how the couple survived the Japanese invasion of China and the Maoist cultural revolution before moving from Shanghai to Sydney 30 years ago.

Mrs Tang allegedly held a long-term fear that her husband was poisoning her food and had taken to swapping the plates served by their carer, a niece.

Mrs Tang has entered a plea of not guilty to murder on the grounds of mental illness. A tiny, frail woman, she faced Downing Centre Local Court last week, when magistrate Janet Wahlquist ordered her to stand trial in the Supreme Court on a date to be fixed.

Detectives allege Mrs Tang confessed to killing her wealthy husband in a struggle. Mr Tang could not walk without a cane. Police initially opposed bail, citing ''the level of violence used and for the protection of the community'', but Mrs Tang was granted continuing bail under strict supervision in a nursing home, pending her trial.

In the week leading up to the death, police allege, Mrs Tang had taken to phoning her granddaughter saying: ''They are scheming against me; they are poisoning me; they are trying to kill me.''

When arrested, Mrs Tang was almost totally soaked in blood, police said. Her husband had been stabbed twice in the stomach and his head had been bludgeoned.

In a record of interview, Mrs Tang had confessed to killing him after he refused to talk to her.

Police allege: ''The accused states that [he] and her started to push each other … started to hit each other. The accused said: 'You hit me. I hit you.'

''The accused states that she said: 'I'm getting old. If you want to kill me let's die together.' The accused states she grabbed an object similar to a jar and struck [him] as hard as she could to the back of the … head.''

The beating allegedly went on for more than an hour. ''The accused states that she put her fingers under the deceased's nose and could still feel him breathing, so she hit him again [with a stick].''

She had thrown objects on to a neighbour's balcony, telling them there was a young man she had never seen before and he was trying to kill her.

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax Media