20 years' jail for botched murder bid

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2007, 12:00am

Brazen triad collaboration worrying: judge

The level of influence being exerted by triads in the New Territories should be a matter of serious public concern, as should the apparent ease with which they are able to liaise and co-ordinate with their colleagues on the mainland, a judge said yesterday.

Recorder Andrew Macrae SC said this in sentencing two members of the Sun Yee On triad society, Tang Yuk-fai, 31, and Sze King-kwok, 34, to 20 years in prison for conspiring to murder a rival boss from within the same organisation. The pair were found guilty on Tuesday by a jury in the Court of First Instance of one count each of conspiracy to commit murder, over a bungled attempt to shoot dead 50-year-old Tang Pui-cheung - a hawker who denies having any idea about why someone would want to kill him - on June 12 last year..

A third man, who had testified against the other two under an immunity deal received a sentence of seven years on other charges.

'This whole conspiracy was about removing an alleged rival to take over another faction's slice of the [black market] oil and ketamine market in the [Tuen Mun] area,' Mr Macrae said. 'What the public will rightly find disquieting is the apparent strength and influence of triad societies in that area as well as the obvious interconnectedness and liaison they have with their counterparts in Shenzhen.'

Mr Macrae noted that several meetings of the conspirators took place in Shenzhen {minus} one at a disco where two guns were 'brazenly examined'. The hitman for the murder was also recruited from the mainland by Sze.

The judge said Tang Yuk-fai was obviously of some stature within the organisation and had been the initiator of the entire plot.

Mr Macrae said the upper limit for conspiracy to murder sentences in Hong Kong so far had been set by the 27-year term handed to Johnny Cheung Wai-ming, a triad member who helped plan the murder of a key witness in a multibillion-dollar smuggling and bribery case.

That case had actually resulted in a murder in Singapore, as opposed to the failed attempt before the court.

'It was a matter of extraordinary good luck for [Tang Pui-cheung] that, for some reason, most likely because the safety catch was still on, the gun did not fire and he was not murdered. 'Some people might not see why that should afford you any different treatment from a situation where the gun did go off. [But] however ruthless the plan, and however far carried through it was, a death did not result.' As such, a sentence of 20 years was appropriate.

Mr Macrae said the third man, Chan Tsz-him, 19, had played such a crucial part in the prosecution that he could award him 'supergrass' status and significantly write down the sentences he would receive. He had earlier pleaded guilty to one count each of assisting offenders and possession of a firearm without a licence. He received a combined sentence of 41/2 years for those offences.

An additional 21/2 years of a six-year sentence he received for drug trafficking was to be served on top of that. Chan was to be kept in protective custody for his entire sentence.