Two ex-correctional services officers were sentenced to three months in jail on Friday, for falsifying urine samples taken from released drug offenders.
Tang Kwai-man and Leung Siu-wing were each convicted in Eastern Court on one count of misconduct in public office, and were granted bail pending appeal.
Deputy Magistrate Allen Wyeth said the defendants had breached the public trust in law enforcers and brought the Correctional Services Department into disrepute.
“There is not the slightest suggestion that the improper practices engaged in were in any way corrupt in the sense that that term implies the receipt by you of money or any other material benefit at all,” he said.
“It is a matter of general sadness and personal tragedy that you find yourself where you are today,” he said. Both men have taken early retirement.
The defendants earlier said they followed orders from senior officers who had told them to swap urine samples to suppress the relapse rate.
They suggested that a surge in the relapse rate after they were arrested in 2009 indicated such malpractice had been common before. But Wyeth rejected the suggestions, saying that one of the reasons for them to do so was out of “laziness for shortcuts”.
After reading all the mitigation letters, Wyeth said, “Over decades in the law I have read perhaps hundreds of such letters, none more obviously genuine and heartfelt than the ones I have read of you.”
Though the defence had pleaded for non-custodial sentences, the magistrate said the two should be imprisoned to serve a warning to others.
The starting point of the jail term was four months, reduced to three because of their guilty pleas – the lightest sentence he could impose – he said.
John Reading SC, for both defendants, applied for bail to lodge an appeal, hoping the High Court would suspend the sentence due to the short period of their offence.