Three plead guilty to throwing corrosive fluid over barrister

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 March, 2011, 12:00am

Six men pleaded guilty yesterday to their roles in an acid attack on a barrister who was prosecuting another lawyer in a mortgage scam case.

Three of the six, one of whom had been convicted of manslaughter when he was 16, yesterday confirmed their pleas of guilty to throwing corrosive fluid with intent.

The three others who previously pleaded guilty were not at yesterday's hearing. A seventh defendant, Chau Kim-lung, 25, was discharged after the charge against him was ordered to remain on the court file.

When barrister Neil Mitchell was attacked on October 26, 2009, outside the District Court in Wan Chai, he was prosecuting another lawyer Kevin Kong Hon-yui, who was charged with conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to defraud involving HK$11 million. Kong was convicted and jailed for six years.

Court documents yesterday showed one defendant, Billy Kay Sik-hong, 44, told police after his arrest that a person named Ah Ki recruited him on behalf of a lawyer to attack the prosecutor. Ah Ki described the intended target as a bald expatriate.

The defendants told police they were offered rewards of up to HK$10,000 for the attack, according to the documents. Six days before the attack, Kay said, he went to the District Court and Kong had walked past, telling him to hurry up or he would go to jail, according to the documents.

During a lunch break in Kong's trial, Mitchell left the District Court building and was crossing Harbour Road heading towards the Grand Hyatt Hotel when a man holding a paper cup threw fluid in his face, said Keith Oderberg, for the prosecution.

As Mitchell tried to wipe the liquid from his face, a second man ran past and threw more fluid, which landed on the barrister's clothing.

Mitchell was taken to hospital, where doctors found he had suffered chemical injuries to his left eye, ear and cheek. By January last year, his vision had been restored.

A government chemist found the liquid was a blend of sulphuric acid and a substance usually found in oil-based paints, Oderberg said.

Three of the attackers, including the defendant with a criminal record, confirmed their guilty pleas yesterday through their lawyers in the Court of First Instance before Madam Justice Clare-Marie Beeson.

They will be sentenced on March 29. It is unclear when the remaining defendants will appear in court.

One of the defendants, Lam Wai-sai, 21, was previously convicted of manslaughter, assault occasioning bodily harm, and preventing the lawful burial of a body, as well as unlawful sexual intercourse with a child under 16 years old, Oderberg said.

The first three charges involved a deadly assault in which Lam and seven others beat an 18-year-old woman for more than 18 hours. He was jailed for six years and four months in 2006.

In the 2009 case, Kong was the sole proprietor of law firm Kong and Associates. Acting for two women posing as buyers, he applied for loans on their behalf from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China using a forged identity card, bank statements and a tax return.

Loans of HK$5.5 million each were granted and the money was transferred to Kong's account and a company account for which Kong was the legal representative.

Mortgage scam

Acting for two women posing as buyers, lawyer Kevin Kong Hon-yui applied for two loans worth a total of, in HK dollars: $11m