Judge says mistake 'was slip of tongue'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 12:00am

A judge who slipped up yesterday when imposing a suspended sentence in a fraud case declined to make amends with a new order.

District Court deputy judge Abu Bakar bin Wahab imposed a three-year sentence on Chan Kit-bing, 37, on one count of conspiracy to defraud, but suspended it for three years.

However, the law states that sentences longer than two years cannot be suspended.

The blunder did not come to light until the court was closed. Lawyers from both sides returned before Deputy Judge Wahab, asking him to rectify the matter.

Defence counsel Steve Chui, after telling the judge of the mistake, was told it was a slip of the tongue.

Relying on a previous case, prosecutor Stanley Chan Kwong-chi urged the judge to consider an immediate custodial sentence for Chan.

Opposing the prosecutor's bid, Mr Chui said his client had already been given her freedom under the suspended sentence.

Deputy Judge Wahab did not pass a new sentence, as he said his duty had already been discharged with the passing of the suspended term.

It is understood the Department of Justice will seek a review of the sentence.

The fraud scheme involved Chan, her husband Wong Shing-cheung and other accomplices. They cheated $4 million worth of goods from a number of companies between September and November 1994 by paying with dud cheques.

Chan, who pleaded not guilty, was convicted after trial.

Her accomplices had been jailed for terms of 28 months to three years between April 1997 and February 1998 before other judges.