Conspiracy evidence lacking, says lawyer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 May, 2006, 12:00am

Prosecutors had failed to prove the existence of a conspiracy between two veteran lawyers and others to pervert justice by influencing a participant in the ICAC's witness protection programme, the District Court heard yesterday.

John McNamara, for barrister Kevin Egan, 59, urged Judge Barnabas Fung Wah to consider the lack of evidence to prove there was a conspiracy. 'And if there is, there is nothing about how Mr Egan happened to be in it,' he said.

Saying that Egan wanted to gain access to the witness to find out if she wanted to stay with the ICAC was 'a long way away' from proving that his client and the other defendants wanted to influence her, the counsel argued. Mr McNamara compared the way that prosecutor Martin Wilson QC put forward his case with that of an ostrich putting its head into the sand in the hope that problems would go away.

Defence barristers were wrapping up their submissions on an application for a ruling of no case to answer on behalf of Egan, solicitor Andrew Lam Ping-cheung, 54, businessman Derek Wong Chong-kwong, 38, and his lover, Mandy Chui Man-si, 26.

The judge put to the counsel evidence from Derek Wong's secretary, Becky Wong Pui-see, who claimed she wept after hearing that Egan and another defendant had, without her knowledge, launched a habeas corpus application for her. She also said she had considered leaving the ICAC's witness protection programme afterwards.

But Mr McNamara said the evidence was not good enough to prove his client played a part in a conspiracy in a criminal trial.

Becky Wong was considered a potential witness against Derek Wong in a corruption case.

Egan, Lam, Semtech International Holdings chairman Derek Wong and Chui have denied a joint count of conspiracy to pervert justice. The two lawyers have also pleaded not guilty to breaching the Witness Protection Ordinance by disclosing Ms Wong's identity to reporters. Chui denies perjury.

The judge will give his ruling on Monday.