Prison officer's claim he was following orders challenged in misconduct case

Prison officer's claim in misconduct case over centre for addicts challenged in court

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, 3:24am

A prosecutor yesterday suggested that a detention officer breached his duties not under orders from a superior, as he claimed, but by giving the directions his own interpretation.

Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Isaac Tam Sze-lok was speaking while cross-examining Tang Kwai-man, a Correctional Services Department officer, in Eastern Court.

Tang, 48, and another officer, Leung Siu-wing, 53, earlier pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office. The court is due to sentence the pair, but before that, it is holding a hearing on whether they acted on orders when committing their offences.

Tang suggested he acted under instructions from a superior who was concerned about the Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre's falling success rate.

Tang and Leung were responsible for supervising former inmates of the centre for a year after they were discharged.

As part of their duties, they had to visit the former inmates and make notes in their records about the dates, times, locations of the meetings and the officers who participated.

They also had to be present when the former inmates produced urine samples to test for the presence of drugs.

The court earlier heard that Tang and Leung recorded incorrect details about visits to some of the former inmates and were not present when some produced urine samples. When two former inmates admitted taking drugs again, Leung switched their urine samples for his own.

Tang said he had recorded that he met some former inmates at their homes when he had done so elsewhere, altering the dates of visits so he would meet a required quota of eight per day, and hiding the fact that some had taken drugs again or could not find jobs.

He claimed that he falsified the records and submitted them under orders and that a superior had expressed concern about falling rates of success among former inmates.

Tam suggested otherwise. "It was your own interpretation of what was said. These unofficial practices are not as widespread as you suggest them to be," he said.

Tang disagreed. He maintained that superiors, including four principal or acting principal officers, knew of the practices. "Even the leader at the top knows what's going on," he said, without identifying the person.

The hearing continues before Deputy Magistrate Allen Wyeth.