Judge cuts sentence to 161/2 years as kidnapper changes plea at retrial

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2008, 12:00am

Convicted kidnapper Pun Luen-pan is a 'threat to our society' who has ignored numerous chances to be a law-abiding citizen, a Court of First Instance judge warned yesterday.

But Mr Justice Louis Tong Po-sun ruled at Pun's retrial that the career criminal should only serve another 11 years - about half Pun's original 21-year jail term - because he had pleaded guilty to kidnapping a businessman in 2002. He has served five years.

The victim, Lam Yick-ming, and his business partner - who paid a HK$5 million ransom - had also been 'unavailable' to testify at Pun's retrial, the court heard.

The prosecution declined to comment when asked why the pair would not testify.

Pun - a father of two young daughters who has spent most of his adult life in jail - was convicted of kidnapping at a Court of First Instance trial in 2003 and sentenced to 21 years behind bars.

But the Court of Appeal later overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial.

Pun, 33, pleaded guilty before his retrial on kidnapping charges. He could be released from jail as early as 2010.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Tong said he would sentence Pun to 161/2 years, less than a one-third reduction, partly because 'the two main witnesses are not available and the main exhibits have been destroyed'.

Pun's chances of winning an acquittal at any retrial would have been 'questionable', the judge said.

Probation and job training after Pun's previous crimes 'didn't seem to have any positive effect on the defendant', Mr Justice Tong said.

Pun spent about six years in jail on robbery charges shortly before the kidnapping, the court heard.

'The kidnapping was a serious threat to our community and must be deterred,' the judge said. 'It is not an exaggeration to say the defendant is a nuisance, or more so, a threat to our society.'