Illegal immigrant jailed for Sheung Shui burglaries

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 December, 2013, 3:35am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 December, 2013, 4:54am

An illegal immigrant from the mainland who had walked for five hours to Hong Kong from Shenzhen broke his legs while fleeing a Sheung Shui luxury house during a bungled burglary attempt, a court heard yesterday.

Zhai Zhitao, 25, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of burglary and one of unlawfully staying in Hong Kong.

The District Court heard that one of the tenants of the three houses in Sheung Shui that Zhao burgled was veteran TVB actor Wayne Lai Yiu-cheung.

Prosecutor Wilson Choi Tin-on said that on October 3, Zhai walked into three houses in Valais, a development on Kwu Tung Road. He stole a rucksack from one house and put all the stolen items, including bracelets, wristwatches and necklaces, into it.

Choi said Zhao heard noises during the burglary and fled, scaling a six-metre high wall. "But he hurt his legs when he jumped down from the wall," Choi said.

The crimes came to light when a barking dog woke a domestic helper in one of the burgled houses. She alerted her employer who called the police. Officers later found Zhai hiding with his loot, worth about HK$1.5 million in all, in nearby bushes.

The man admitted having entered Hong Kong illegally from Shenzhen and said that after walking for five hours, he decided to enter a house at Valais through an open glass door.

Passing sentence on Zhai yesterday, District Judge Garry Tallentire said: "I accept that this robbery was opportunistic ... I accept that [Zhai has been] co-operative with police from the outset."

But the case was aggravated by the fact the items stolen were valuable and that the crimes took place in the early hours of the morning, the judge said.

In mitigation, Zhai's lawyers said he had hurt one of his legs in a car crash in 2005, and that he broke both his legs in the burglary attempt.

The court heard that Zhai committed the crimes because he could not afford his four-year-old son's rising school fees. He had come to Hong Kong with the intention of looking for a job at the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market.