Plea bargain warning

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 April, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 April, 1995, 12:00am

PROSECUTION lawyers cannot enter into plea bargains with criminals and then complain when lenient sentences are imposed, the Court of Appeal said.

The court rejected a bid by the Attorney-General to have a 12-month prison sentence against a fraud conspirator increased.

The defendant had originally faced 10 charges. But the prosecution accepted guilty pleas to only five.

Mr Justice Macdougall said: 'If the effect of plea bargaining is to reduce the scope of a defendant's criminal activity, the Crown must expect the courts to pass sentences in accordance with the criminality disclosed in the charges to which pleas of guilty are accepted, and nothing more.' Carina Ching Wai-fan pleaded guilty to the five charges of conspiracy to defraud. She was sentenced by Judge Hawles at the District Court in November to a year in jail on each charge to be served concurrently.

The offences involved the providing of false information to the Labour Department and Immigration Department to obtain visas for Filipino maids.

Grenville Cross, QC, for the Attorney-General, submitted that the sentence was manifestly inadequate.

Sitting with Mr Justice Macdougall were Mr Justice Penlington and Mr Justice Yam.