Murderers serving life brought back to court for judge to set minimum sentences

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 August, 2001, 12:00am

The instigators of a schoolboy's 'brutal, savage and inhuman' killing were yesterday told not to expect parole until they have served at least 30 years of their life terms.


Hui Chi-wai, 22, and Fu Hin-chun, 20, were clearly the 'instigators of this horrible crime', Mr Justice Michael Wong Kin-chow said of a teenager's death at the hands of a juvenile gang in May 1997. Ng Ming-chun, 20, and Chan Tak-ming, 19, were 'full participants from beginning to end . . . playing active and important roles'.


Ng and Chan were ordered to serve at least 25 years.


Remission for good behaviour was not applicable to a minimum sentence, Mr Justice Wong noted, rejecting their counsel's request for a term of 18 to 19 years.


Luk Chi-wai, 16, was the victim of a 'killing of the worst kind' when he lost his life after being punched, kicked and hit with weapons inside a flat in Sau Mau Ping Estate, Kwun Tong.


His body has never been recovered.


'I don't know whether there has been a worse killing, but this must be one of the worst,' Mr Justice Wong said.


The four, who were jailed for life in January 1999 after being convicted of murder, were brought back to the Court of First Instance for the judge to specify the minimum sentence each had to complete before parole could be considered.


They were all under 18 at the time of the offence and the law required a minimum term to be given as part of their sentence.


'This was a horrendous crime and this young boy was killed in the most brutal, savage and inhumane manner without any resistance or provocation in any way,' Mr Justice Wong said.


'At the time of sentencing, I considered that the four of you were leading figures in this wicked and brutal killing. I decided to impose on each of you a term of life imprisonment,' the judge said.


Presiding at the 116-day jury trial which began on July 17, 1998, Mr Justice Wong overlooked the minimum-term requirement.


'I accept full responsibility for the oversight because as the trial judge I had full control of the proceedings,' the judge said.


Mr Justice Wong's remark came less than a month after the Court of Appeal had found his omission 'not entirely surprising, given that he had the unusual task of sentencing 13 defendants'.


In its judgment, the Court of Appeal had criticised lawyers at trial for not spotting the issue. Yesterday Mr Justice Wong said he attributed no fault or blame to anyone but himself.


The Court of Appeal remitted the unfinished sentencing to the judge after dismissing the prisoners' appeals against conviction on July 20.