Accused sees no harm asking film crew for cash, court told
An air-conditioning technician accused of blackmailing a Hollywood film crew thought there was nothing wrong in demanding HK$100,000, his counsel told a court yesterday.
Barrister Roy Bowie Yip asked the District Court to dismiss the blackmail charge against Mak Chi-shing, 27, in a case that has made headlines around the world due to the involvement of the crew of the blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Mak and his brother, Chi-hang, 28, have denied three charges: blackmail, resisting an officer and assaulting an officer.
"Even if Mak might have mentioned the amount of HK$100,000, his claim was not an improper demand," Yip said. "The shooting did cause inconvenience to the Mak brothers' air-conditioning business."
Yip said the crew of more than 100 vastly outnumbered the brothers and their associates. He questioned how the brothers could have threatened the crew in that situation and submitted that there was no evidence his client had used a weapon. Prosecution witnesses had not described anything vicious in the way Mak asked for money, he said.
But Judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen rejected Yip's submission.
The Mak brothers chose not to take the witness stand or call any witnesses. The judge adjourned the case to next Wednesday to give lawyers time to prepare their final submissions.
The court had earlier heard that the pair ran an air-conditioning shop in King's Road, Quarry Bay, outside which the Transformers crew were filming on October 17 last year during a 10-day shoot in the city.
The night before filming, a crew member agreed to pay HK$1,000 to the pair for the inconvenience. But when the crew arrived, the brothers were playing loud music and allegedly demanded HK$100,000. Later, the brothers and other men began moving bricks out of the shop to obstruct the crew.
The elder Mak allegedly lifted an air conditioner and threw it towards the director, Michael Bay, which prompted the crew to call in police.