Four years for smuggler who fooled appeal judges
A cocaine smuggler found guilty of tricking the Court of Final Appeal with forged documents to escape an assault conviction was jailed for a further four years yesterday.
In a drama-packed sentencing, Brian Alfred Hall sacked and rehired his barrister, then delivered his own mitigation speech in which he compared himself to Nelson Mandela.
Judge Eddie Yip Chor-man in the District Court ordered four concurrent four-year sentences for three charges of perverting the course of public justice and one of using false instruments.
The case was unprecedented, according to Yip, who described Hall's hoodwinking of Hong Kong's highest court as 'colossal' and 'ingenious'.
'The defendant orchestrated a well-planned and sophisticated attack on the judicial system,' he said.
Hall, who called himself a football player and businessman from Nigeria, was convicted of drug smuggling more than a decade ago and has since launched more than 100 lawsuits from prison. An alleged assault on officers led to a Court of Final Appeal hearing where Hall was exonerated, based on fresh evidence apparently signed by Correctional Services Department officials.
Last week Yip found those documents to be false and used by Hall to deliberately trick the highest court in a case that has proven an embarrassment to the Department of Justice.
If Hall had accepted his six-month sentence for assaulting the prison guards he could have been released as early as March this year.
If he had behaved well throughout his time in jail he could have been released in 2010 after 12 years of his 18-year imprisonment for cocaine smuggling.
Instead he will have four years for cheating the courts added to his drug trafficking conviction, as well as possible sentences from more than 60 disciplinary proceedings with the Correctional Services Department.
Yesterday's court session - like those throughout Hall's history of litigation - was far from straightforward. Midway through the hearing, an agitated Hall started waving at the judge from the dock and made an announcement. 'I represent myself from now onwards,' he said. 'My instructions are not being put through.'
A brief adjournment later, Hall's counsel, Oliver Davies, told Yip he had been sacked by Hall, saying the reason was his refusal to submit certain arguments in his defence, as well as 'various other political matters'.
Client and counsel eventually reconciled after a long break, with the judge allowing a grinning Hall to present a speech in his defence.
Hall pleaded his innocence to all charges, saying it was 'simply impossible' that he could have pulled off the plan he was convicted of.
'May I remind this court that the former South African president Nelson Mandela was once by law a convicted terrorist,' he said.
'I am not a pathological or habitual criminal,' he added later.
Hall also claimed a 'flagrant refusal' of medical care from prison officers had led to hearing loss, piles and a spine disorder.
Yip found no mitigating factors in his sentence. But the last word of the four-month case belonged to Hall's barrister, Davies: 'I thought this day would never come.'