Barrister dismissed for 'inept' defence

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 1995, 12:00am

A JUDGE yesterday dismissed an 'incompetent' barrister, accusing him of 'wasting tax dollars' and turning the proceedings into a farce.

Judge Kilgour told the District Court both he and the defendant had 'serious concerns as to whether counsel knew what they were doing'.

'The directions of the court have not been followed and a farcical progression of events has occurred,' he said.

Yesterday was the 11th day the District Court has heard the theft case.

Chu Yiu-ming made his first District Court appearance on July 5 last year.

Then, on May 25 this year, the trial was aborted after Judge Jackson discovered critical documents had been improperly translated.

On July 4, there was a second attempt to launch the case when it came before Judge Kilgour for pretrial review.

'I made it clear if [the defence] had difficulties to let me know and I would issue a subpoena for documents,' said Judge Kilgour.

But, when defence counsel Peter Wan Wah-shing appeared on Tuesday, his 'prime object' was to apply for an adjournment, the judge said.

'It is now the third day and not a word of evidence has been heard. I feel the cost to the taxpayer is alarming and should be a matter of public concern.' The documents had not yet been obtained, and the judge was forced to adjourn the trial so he could finally subpoena witnesses.

Mr Wan defended his position, saying the police had promised to turn all relevant documents over to the defence counsel, but had failed to do so at the last minute.

'I think it is proper for the defence to allow the police to do what they have said they would do rather than rush in and ask for a subpoena,' Mr Wan said.

He also told the judge he needed an adjournment because a medical condition prevented him taking on complicated cases. His doctor had advised him against working during the evening, he said.

But Judge Kilgour rejected the argument, saying the lawyer's brief had been delivered on July 19. If he was not equal to the task, he should never have taken it.

The judge said he had informed the legal department of Mr Wan's dismissal, adding inept lawyers also reflected badly on the judges.

'The Legislative Council has expressed concern over the number of hours judges sit,' he said. 'We are happy to be there from 9.30 to 4.30 but we cannot do that without the co-operation of counsel.' The trial will continue on Monday with defence counsel Michael Poll.

The 33-year-old defendant pleaded not guilty to theft, handling stolen goods and false accounting.

Chu is alleged to have accepted $5,200 from a buyer on June 10, 1993, when he was the sales manager for Lucks Business Machines Company, which dealt in time-control card machines.

But the firm never saw the money, the court heard.

Prosecutor Jonathan Man said Chu had repeated the crime, fudging the books to cover his tracks.