Racing driver cleared in under-age sex trial

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 12:00am

Former racing car driver Michael Lui Man-ho yesterday was acquitted of two under-age sex charges after the magistrate ruled there was a lack of evidence for one offence and a 'bare and marginal case' for the other.

The former Formula Three driver, 44, pleaded not guilty to having sex with a girl under 16 at the Cyber Heart Cafe in Woosung Street, Jordan, in October 2003. He also denied indecent conduct towards another girl aged under 16 in November, 2003.

But when the defence applied to have Mr Lui's legal costs recovered, Kowloon City Magistrate Bruce McNair rejected the application, saying 'the defendant has brought the charges on his own head'.

Mr McNair ruled that Mr Lui had no case to answer on the first charge and should be acquitted.

He accepted defence counsel Gary Plowman's submissions that 'identification evidence was weak' and evidence statements 'self-contradictory'.

As for the indecent-conduct charge, the magistrate said Mr Lui 'has the most meagre case to answer'.

'The case hasn't been proved beyond reasonable doubt,' he said.

Mr McNair's decision came when alibi witnesses were about to be called to give evidence. Mr Plowman said Mr Lui was at an Aberdeen boat yard when the second offence allegedly occurred.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Lui said the case had had a serious impact on his life.

He said he had never visited any brothel-type cyber cafe and had never before seen the girls, aged 16 and 13.

Mr Lui said he had shaved off his moustache before attending an identification parade on July 14 last year because it was an instruction from a fortune teller to fend off bad luck. 'He recommended that I shave off my moustache, trim my nostril hair and eyebrows,' he said.

Mr Lui referred to an incident in which the 16-year-old - who was 15 at the time of the alleged offence - broke down when giving evidence. Mr Lui said she cried because of her conscience.

'She said she saw me 10-odd times on television. But during the identification, did she identify me as Michael Lui or as the one she had sex with at the cafe?' he said.

Mr Lui won a string of Formula Three-level races around the world in the 1980s before retiring. He now owns Promax Marine, dealing in engines, yachts and boats.