Judge scolds prosecutor's lenient charge on man who attacked police

The charge against a man who assaulted two women police officers was too lenient, he says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 3:47am

A District Court judge lambasted a prosecutor yesterday for putting a lenient charge on a 31-year-old man who assaulted two women police officers while trying to free his 16-year-old girlfriend who was in their custody.

"Police officers deserve legal protection just like anyone else," Judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on told prosecutor Timmy Yip Chi-hong, who then changed the charge to a more severe one.

Chan Sze-kit, a food production employee, could now face up to five more years in jail after he pleaded guilty to one count of escape from lawful custody.

Chan worked with three other men - one aged 19 and two aged 15 - to "attack" the police officers on September 28, 2012, as they were escorting the girl from the Tuen Mun Law Courts Building, the prosecution said.

The girl had just attended a juvenile court hearing related to a guardianship issue after she had run away from home.

The prosecution said Chan "strangled" one officer and "dragged" the other in the parking lot of the building.

During the scuffle, the group were able to run off - only to be foiled by a taxi driver who refused to drive them. The two 15-year-olds were shown on security video participating in the attack, with the 19-year-old apparently acting as look-out.

The girl was charged with escape from lawful custody. She was 15 years old at the time and will be tried as a minor.

The four males were charged with abduction of a juvenile, which carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment.

All five defendants pleaded guilty to the original charges.

After the admonishment from the judge, Yip amended Chan's charge to "escape from lawful custody", which for an adult carries a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.

"It is a serious crime … You should be mentally prepared for the outcome," the judge told Chan.

The pair started to date when she was 14, which worried her parents, especially after she dropped to the bottom of her class, her lawyer, Anita Ma, said. "She ran away from home … because she couldn't stand her mother's yelling and nagging," Ma said.

The girl was missing for a year before police found her and took her into custody to stand trial in Juvenile Court.

From the training centre where she was being held, "she wrote … letters to her boyfriend complaining about her situation … but she could never have imagined that he and his friends would take such extreme action to free her," Ma said. "She read too many romance novels and watched too many romantic dramas … she is remorseful now."

The girl has been held in a minimum security facility for young women since the incident.

The five defendants will stand trial together on February 28.