Gangster's letters smuggled out of jail

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2006, 12:00am

A Correctional Services Department officer is accused of carrying two unauthorised personal letters out of Stanley Prison for Yip Kai-foon, one of Hong Kong's most notorious gangsters.

Eastern Court Magistrate Winston Leung Wing-chung yesterday heard Yip, 41, wrote the letters, one addressed to his wife and dated last July, asking her to record a TV show. The other was to ask a male friend, Lau Luen-hung, to raise funds to appeal over his sentence.

Lau's name in Chinese is identical to that of tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung, executive director of Chinese Estates Group. The group could not be reached for comment.

Assistant officer Lau Wai-fai, 37, is accused of carrying articles out of prison without authorisation on or before the end of July last year.

Lau faces three other charges of stealing and possessing prescription drugs from the prison hospital.

Yip is serving a 36-year term in Stanley Prison. He was arrested in Western on May 13, 1996, and later convicted of shooting at police and possessing explosives. The clash left him paralysed. He also suffers from various illnesses.

Lau, who is suspended from his duties, said in his videotaped interview that Yip had repeatedly asked him to mail his letters, but he refused. One day in July last year, Yip repeated his plea and dropped the letters. Lau picked them up.

Lau said he never intended to mail the letters and planned to throw them away.

An investigation was triggered after the ICAC received a tip-off accusing Lau of accepting advantages and conspiring in the trafficking of dangerous drugs, senior investigator Wong Tsz-mau told the court.

In a raid on August 17 last year, the Independent Commission Against Corruption found two letters in Lau's locker and a stash of medicine in the refrigerator of his Tsuen Wan home.

Lau said he collected the drugs off the floor and some were left behind by patients. He said the medications were for his own use.