Woman fined HK$5,000 in Lantau cow death trial
Woman failed to give details of driver to police investigating accident that killed eight animals
A woman whose car was suspected to have been linked to the deaths of eight feral cows on Lantau last year has been fined HK$5,000 for failing to give information to police.
The penalty imposed on Sarah Wilson, who had denied the charge, came as police continued to investigate the deaths of the animals on the South Lantau Road almost a year ago.
The 49-year-old British quantity surveyor was arrested on June 5 last year on suspicion of cruelty to animals after eight feral cows were found dead on the roadside near Tong Fuk and her car was found parked close to the scene with animal fur stuck to its damaged bumper.
When police asked her for information on who had driven the car, Wilson said she had no details. She was later charged with failing to give information on a traffic offence.
Magistrate Raymond Wong Kwok-fai said in Tsuen Wan Court yesterday that on a form Wilson was asked to fill out, she left the driver's name, address and licence number empty.
The magistrate said there was sufficient evidence to suspect she had committed an offence and failed to report it, and this justified the demand for information.
Wilson was then given up to 21 days to find out who could have driven her car, but instead handed in the incomplete form again a day later. She failed to exercise reasonable diligence, Wong said.
Because she had no criminal record and had a clean driving record, the magistrate decided a financial penalty was suitable.
A police spokeswoman said the case was still under investigation. Asked about the possibility of further charge, a Department of Justice spokesman said the charge of failing to provide information "was the only appropriate offence for the present case".
"Had there been sufficient evidence to prove the identity of any person who was responsible for the death of the cows, suitable charges would have been laid," he added.
The failure-to-give-information offence carries a maximum HK$15,000 fine and six months' jail. Not stopping after injuring an animal with a vehicle can bring a HK$10,000 maximum fine and 12 months' imprisonment.