Corrections officers deny cash for letters
Two correctional officers denied asking a prisoner and her boyfriend for cash and expensive gifts in exchange for illicitly running messages for them, the District Court was told yesterday.
Ng Shuk-yi, 36, is accused of one count of soliciting an advantage and three counts of attempted fraud, while Lai Sau-wai, 47, faces one count of soliciting an advantage and one of accepting an advantage.
Ng was with the Correctional Services Department's (CSD) Escort and Support Group, while Lai worked at the Chi Ma Wan Correctional Institution, until their arrest and suspension from duty in March 2010.
The two women are accused of seeking HK$530,000 in cash, expensive handbags, jewellery and other gifts from a jailed mainland woman, Wu Qiaomei, and her boyfriend Lu Guoxiang. In return, the officers passed messages between the two and to Wu's family.
Wu was in the Chi Ma Wan jail then, and has since been moved.
Lawyer Kenny Chan, for the prosecution, said Ng agreed to help Wu on December 21, 2009. To get around CSD rules that limit officers' communications with inmates and their relatives, Ng disguised her identity by using the alias 'Coco', and used her own elder sister's mailing address for communications with Wu.
Two days later, the prosecution said, Ng mailed letters to Lu and to Wu's family members.
On December 29, 2009, Ng told Lu that she was fond of handbags and accessories. 'Lu felt Ng wanted him to send expensive gifts. Lu suggested a small heater, but Ng wanted an LV [Louis Vuitton] handbag,' Chan told the court. In January 2010, Ng asked Wu several times for HK$500,000 to pay for a grandmother's medical expenses and her parents' living expenses, the court heard. Ng also asked Lu for HK$30,000 to cover her mother's credit card bills, and money for her own medical costs.
Investigators later found that Ng's grandmother and grandmother-in-law had died many years earlier, and that her medical costs were negligible, the court heard.
Lai sought a favour from Lu on February 22, 2010, asking him to help a friend to secure an elevator contract related to a construction project.
Lu gave Lai a second-hand computer on March 23, after she hinted at wanting one, the court heard. Ng was given none of the things she sought, the court heard, while Lai got only the computer. The trial continues on Thursday before Deputy District Judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on.