Firebug cook gets six-year jail term
A cook who lit several fires 'for fun' and touched off a conflagration that inflicted HK$20 million in damage on Mong Kok was jailed for six years and four months yesterday.
Kwong Chi-sing, 33, who had pleaded guilty to one count of arson, remained calm as he was sentenced for fires he set in Fa Yuen Street in the early hours of December 6, 2010. He was also sentenced to four years and two months in jail for three counts of arson committed in back lanes of Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po. The sentences will run concurrently.
Kwong's relatives wept when they heard the sentence.
Mr Justice Alan Wright said while Kwong's conduct had been reckless, he had not intended to cause the drastic consequences. Kwong told police he was 'just being playful' when he set the fires.
Kwong had had a few drinks before lighting the fires, but the judge said he was old enough to know the consequences.
'The inherent danger, particularly in an area where hawker stalls are located cheek by jowl, immediately in front of buildings containing shops, with residential accommodation about them, must have been apparent to you,' Wright said.
Kwong's guilty plea would not win him a one-third sentencing discount, Wright said, because he admitted his crime only after the admissibility hearing, showing a lack of sincere remorse.
The four-hour blaze in Fa Yuen Street destroyed 29 ground-floor shops and 49 market stalls. Nobody died in the blaze, but several people - including a fireman - were admitted to hospital for smoke inhalation and minor injuries.