Engineer changes plea in North Point lift plunge case
All five defendants in North Point accident that injured 7 people now plead not guilty
An engineer involved in a lift accident that left seven people injured changed his plea yesterday after a magistrate warned the seriousness of the case might warrant him a jail term.
Lift engineer Lam Chi-wah, 72, initially pleaded guilty to his three summonses before Eastern Court Special Magistrate Ho Lai-ming - who said an immediate custodial sentence might be needed given the case's seriousness and Lam's negligence.
The summonses allege that the engineer "failed to examine the suspension ropes of the lift in accordance with the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance" during a periodic examination on November 21 last year.
Ho later passed the case to Magistrate So Wai-tak, before whom Lam changed his plea to not guilty after being advised by his counsel.
The court heard yesterday that the accident took place at King's Tower at 480 King's Road in North Point on March 2.
Four of the seven people injured had to undergo surgery and attend rehabilitation training after the accident.
It also heard that all four suspension ropes of the lift - which could hold up to 12 people - snapped just as it passed the first floor on the way up.
The prosecution told the court that rust was found on all four cables because of insufficient lubricant, and that the problem could have been discovered by Lam during his routine check on November 21.
Lam was also charged with failing to examine the traction sheave of the lift and signing off a certificate even though he knew that it was false.
Four other defendants - Shineford Engineering, company directors Mak Wai-kai and Lo Chi-kin, and lift worker Chau Kwai-ping - also pleaded not guilty to their summonses before Ho.
The case has been adjourned to February 18 for a pre-trial review.
According to the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance, lift contractors must ensure that works are carried out properly and safely.
The maximum penalty that can be given for breaching the ordinance is one year in jail and a HK$200,000 fine.
In April, a month after the accident, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department informed Shineford Engineering that the department would suspend its status as a registered lift contractor for six months from May 1.