School boss faces spell in jail for conning parent
A disgraced former school supervisor was convicted yesterday of conning a parent into granting HK$200,000 to help fund a merger with an international school that never took place.
Carman Liang Shuk-ching, former supervisor of the Pegasus Philip Wong Kin Hang Christian School, was found guilty in the District Court of one count of fraud but cleared of a second fraud charge, which also related to a loan to the school.
The 47-year-old was remanded in custody, despite pleas from her lawyer to extend her bail.
'This is a serious offence and involves a large sum of money,' Deputy Judge Don So Man-lung said. She will be sentenced on June 14 after the completion of a background report and a medical report.
Liang was found to have induced parent Tam Chi-shuk to pay HK$200,000 to Pegasus Social Service Christian Organisation, the school's sponsoring body, to help fund a proposed merger of the Kwun Tong school with Sear Rogers International School.
So said he found Tam's evidence earlier in the trial to be truthful. She told the court that Liang had persuaded her to grant the loan in order to repay debentures to parents at Sear Rogers as a precondition for the merger. In fact, the school had never granted such debentures.
The judge said the defendant's behaviour during the trial had been 'weird' and inconsistent, and rebutted points put forward by the defence, including its questioning of the integrity of witnesses and its claim that Liang had no motive.
So dismissed the idea that the mother had only contacted the authorities because she 'felt cheated after the media made negative reports' about the management of the school.
He acknowledged that Tam was the only person present at a meeting of parents where Liang made the fraudulent claims to come forward and make a complaint, but he said this fact alone did not call her evidence into question.
But So dismissed a second charge against Liang relating to a separate HK$250,000 loan granted by another parent. The judge said the witness had not been able to present a clear account of what happened.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption had charged Liang, who was arrested last year after returning to the city from Malaysia, with theft, claiming she had benefited personally from the loans, which ended up in bank accounts linked to herself and her husband.
The theft charge was dropped before the criminal trial, and So agreed with the defence's submission that Liang had not gained personally from the loans and had spent her own money to the benefit of the school after the merger collapsed in 2007.
The defence suggested that a community service order would be a suitable punishment, but So said that because of the seriousness of the case Liang would have to be in custody.
After the hearing, Liang shouted that she had been a victim of 'lies', while her husband said outside the court that a decision on a possible appeal would be made later.
The school's sponsoring body, the Pegasus Social Service Christian Organisation, took the unusual step of withdrawing its sponsorship in 2009 amid concerns over the school's finances. It reopened the same year as the Fukien Primary School.