Man wins appeal to prevent a third trial in assault case

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2008, 12:00am

The Court of Final Appeal has overturned a ruling that would have seen a man who assaulted his maid tried for the third time on a charge for which he already served a sentence.

Mok Kin-kau had faced the prospect of being tried yet again for an assault that allegedly occurred at his Ma On Shan flat on September 30, 2004. Mr Mok allegedly struck the head of his domestic helper on a table after she refused to sign a salary receipt.

He was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was found guilty by a magistrate on April 6, 2005. However, the Court of First Instance, in October 2005, overturned the conviction and his two-month suspended jail term because of comments by the magistrate.

Mr Mok faced court again in October 2006 and was again found guilty, this time by a different magistrate who ordered him to serve 200 hours of community service. He completed that service and then, in August last year, successfully appealed against that conviction on the grounds that the magistrate had made material errors when evaluating the evidence.

Mr Justice Louis Tong Po-sun in the Court of First Instance ruled that although the matter was not a particularly serious one, it nonetheless warranted a retrial.

Mr Mok appealed against the ruling directly to the Court of Final Appeal on the basis that it was a 'substantial and grave injustice'. The Department of Justice decided not to oppose the appeal.

Ruling in Mr Mok's favour, the court said: 'In the absence of a special and compelling reason for doing so, putting a person on trial for the third time after two concluded trials and appeals, and after he has already served the whole of his sentence would ... constitute a substantial and grave injustice.'

Andrew Bruce SC, for Mr Mok, agreed. 'People don't even get tried a third time for murder,' he said.