Three prison guards jailed after an inmate’s death have lost an appeal against their convictions.
Leung Shing-chi, 47, So Ka-wai, 35, and Tang Yuk-po, 49, were jailed for 16 months in 2012 for inflicting serious bodily harm on Chen Chu-nan, a Taiwanese inmate who died within two days of entering Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre where the three worked.
Chen, who was being detained over an alleged phone scam, had 117 bruises and wounds on his body.
The three men said their lawyer, Oliver Davies, had wrongly advised them not to give evidence in court, leading to an unfair trial. One of the three appeal judges agreed with their claim but his colleagues outvoted him.
A witness saw Chen rush into the jail’s consultation room pursued by the officers – two armed with extendable truncheons and the third with pepper spray – at 11am on August 15, 2009.
Chen was next seen being escorted to the hospital ward at 11:09 am. The next morning he was found unconscious. He died of “extensive soft tissue injury”.
Mr Justice Andrew Macrae wrote in the Court of Final Appeal’s judgment that the nine minutes Chen had spent with the trio were the only time the injuries could have been caused, and the advice not to give evidence “effectively closed the only avenue open to them of being acquitted”.
Fellow judges Peter Line and Frank Stock said the counsel had adequate reasons to advise them against testifying in the face of “a very strong case against them”.
Clive Grossman, representing the appellants, also argued some of the injuries could have resulted from a legitimate attempt to subdue Chen. But all three judges upheld the District Court’s conclusion that the number of injuries was beyond lawful restraint.