Judge demands 'whole truth'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 November, 1997, 12:00am
 

Essential information vital to sentencing is being omitted from court documents and the Department of Justice is to blame, a judge said yesterday.


Mr Justice Frank Stock refused to pass sentence on a self-confessed drug trafficker because too much information was missing from the summary of facts.


He called on the Government to ensure prosecutors gave judges comprehensive summaries of facts so the courts could make informed sentencing decisions.


'It is incumbent on the prosecuting authority to put in place a system where the counsel are trained to put before the court information such that the case before the court has flesh,' he said in the Court of First Instance.


'Although courts set guidelines for sentencing, it is nonetheless unacceptable to treat the court as a robot being fed the barest of facts as if it will behave as an automaton.' Mr Justice Stock said it was not the first time he had complained about this.


But he said the situation had 'generally improved' since he first voiced his complaints.


He adjourned the trafficking case involving Lo Tim-shing until next Friday, requesting that senior barrister Edward Brook's summary of facts be redrafted.


Lo admitted trafficking in 3.49 kilograms of heroin.


Mr Justice Stock said the summary of facts had not revealed the source of the drugs, the size of the operation, or how long Lo had told the police he was involved in the trade.


The judge also wanted to learn the value of any information Lo might have given to the police and the fate of any suspects he might have incriminated.


'Having read the summary of facts I then had to do counsel's job and read the papers myself,' Mr Justice Stock said.


The judge's personal perusal revealed the trafficker had told investigators where the drugs were being processed and had led them there.


'None of this is in the summary of facts,' Mr Justice Stock said.


On June 11, police officers found the drugs after raiding a stone hut in Lok Ma Chau, Yuen Long.


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