Kemal Bokhary

Bokhary's driving ban for head-on crash raised from one year to three

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 January, 2011, 12:00am

Amina Mariam Bokhary, the top judge's niece with a history of scuffling with police officers, will be spending a longer time off the road.

The Court of Appeal yesterday extended her one-year driving ban, for failing to provide a breath specimen, to three years.

In August, Magistrate Anthony Yuen Wai-ming in Eastern Court disqualified Bokhary for a year and fined her HK$5,000 for the offence, which was committed after her car collided head-on with a tour bus last January.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos SC yesterday convinced the higher court to impose a heavier sentence by arguing that the original sentence was 'manifestly inadequate and wrong in principle'.

'Where a person has refused to provide a breath specimen, they should be treated in a very serious and severe manner,' he said.

The 35-year-old niece of Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary will not be able to drive until August 2013. Bokhary, who has been serving a six-week jail term after breaching conditions of a probation order, smiled as she was led away by correctional services officers after hearing the ruling.

Last January 27, Bokhary's car collided with a tour bus in Stubbs Road, Happy Valley, damaging the front parts of both vehicles. 'The respondent became increasingly emotional [and] attempted to leave the scene on foot,' Zervos said.

She then slapped a police officer who tried to stop her from leaving.

This was the 'worst case of its kind', Zervos said. Also, it was clear from the admitted facts that Bokhary smelled of alcohol.

Initially, the probation order imposed by Yuen for slapping the police officer - which had stirred street protests by hundreds who called it too lenient - was also a subject of the prosecution's application. But on December 23, acting Principal Magistrate Amanda Jane Woodcock revoked the probation order, having found Bokhary had breached five out of seven probation conditions.

One of those conditions was for Bokhary to have spent three months at the Betty Ford Centre for alcohol rehabilitation, but she left the US centre after 78 days. Given the seriousness of that, Woodcock re-sentenced Bokhary for assaulting a police officer to six weeks in jail.

Bokhary's lawyers immediately applied to appeal the jail term. Her application for bail pending an appeal was rejected on December 24.

Counsel Peter Duncan SC said yesterday he did not know whether his client would continue to appeal against the sentence. Duncan argued that neurologist Dr Robert Ho Ting-kwok made clear that Bokhary's violent behaviour after the accident was a result of her head injuries. 'The fact that she was concussed did play a part in her behaviour,' he said.

But Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen said that was irrelevant. 'Disqualification is preventive,' he said. 'We are trying to protect the public.'

The Road Traffic Ordinance provides that a first offender who refuses to provide a breath specimen be disqualified for at least three months and can be jailed for up to six months. An amendment, which went into effect last month, extends the disqualification period to not less than two years.

While the amendment did not apply to Bokhary's case, Zervos said that it was important to know as a backdrop that there had been changes. Yuen had used the norm of one-year disqualification in sentencing, which Zervos said was incorrect.

The application was heard before Mr Justice Yeung, acting Chief Judge Mr Justice Robert Tang Ching and Mr Justice Frank Stock. The judges will deliver their written reasons later.

Outside the court, Zervos said the Department of Justice would not take the matter further.

Broken bond

The number of weeks Bokhary is serving in jail for violating her probation order: 6