27-year jail term over mahjong raid

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 May, 2006, 12:00am

Two men receive lengthy prison sentences for an attack on a group of six players in a Fanling home

Two armed robbers who bungled an attempt to rob a group of mahjong players were jailed for 14 years and 27 years yesterday.

Chan To, 45, received 27 years after being found guilty of four charges: robbery, possession of a firearm in the course of a robbery, possession of ammunition without a licence, and shooting with intent.

Deputy High Court Judge Peter Line described Chan, who had pleaded not guilty on all counts, as a professional criminal who posed a danger to society.

The court heard earlier that Chan, a Hong Kong resident, had 13 convictions including for rape and armed robbery.

The judge also noted that Chan had attacked the mahjong players less than six months after serving a 12-year term for robbery.

Shing Man-ping, his 35-year-old accomplice, was jailed for 14 years for his role in the robbery. Shing, an illegal immigrant from Hunan province, had pleaded guilty to charges of attempted robbery, robbery and weapon possession in the course of robbery in March.

The court was told that on the night of June 9, Shing and Chan entered a home in Fanling and attempted to rob the six people who were playing mahjong.

While Chan covered the players, Shing set about tying them up and robbing each of them.

But Shing ran into trouble when he tried to take a bag from one woman, who refused to give it up. Chan pointed the pistol at the woman, who heard a 'bang which to her resembled the sound of a champagne bottle being opened', the court was told.

Another player shouted the gun was fake, while another ran to get a cleaver from the kitchen. The two robbers fled, and the group returned to their game without bothering to call the police - even though the woman had spotted a hole in her shirt and a red welt on her stomach.

It was not until the following morning she decided to contact the police.

She had opened her bag and discovered a hole had been shot through the $12,500 in notes inside.

Officers searched the room where she and her companions had been playing and found a spent 7.62mm casing and a projectile.

At the trial last month, a pathologist who examined her wound said 'it would be possible, by chance and by luck', for the bullet's energy to have been so reduced by its passage through her handbag and the banknotes that it left only a superficial wound.

Shing was arrested on June 10 after another robbery in Tai Po. He told police he had paid 3,000 yuan for the pistol in Hunan.