Heroin courier, 15, jailed for more than six years in 'lenient' sentence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 12:00am

A 15-year-old heroin courier has escaped a longer prison term because of his age.

Deputy High Court Judge Peter Line cited the teen's immaturity and 'extreme youth' as he handed the boy a jail sentence of six years and eight months in the Court of First Instance yesterday.

Mr Justice Line, who called the sentence 'lenient', noted it had been reduced by a standard one-third for a plea of guilty to the possession of dangerous drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

The teen's sentence would have been 10 years before the reduction. Adult defendants arrested for heroin trafficking could face as many as 20 or more years before any reduction for a guilty plea.

'The [defendant] lacks the maturity to deal with the facts that led to the crime,' Mr Justice Line said.

With good behaviour, the teen - who cannot be identified because of his age - could be released from a youth facility before he is due to be transferred to an adult prison, Mr Justice Line said. 'But in the mind of a 15-year-old, the idea of six years and eight months [in prison] stretches far, far into the future,' he added

The teen was arrested on July 29 after police saw him riding his bicycle along Lin Ma Hang Road in Sha Tau Kok. Two plastic bags were hanging from the handles, according to an agreed summary of facts.

When stopped by police, the boy said the bags contained treacle, but he refused to open them, saying the contents were for his relatives.

Later, police discovered the teen had been carrying about 463 grams of heroin.

He admitted that a friend paid him HK$5,000 to deliver what he believed to be drugs. The teen had said he did not know what sort of drugs he was carrying, or how much.

'That's true of many drugtrafficking cases with adults involved,' the judge said. 'But that would be no mitigation in their case.'