A High Court judge yesterday urged the Department of Justice to research the penalties for repeat sexual offenders overseas, saying Hong Kong's 10-year maximum was not enough to punish a serial attacker who molested a schoolgirl just 15 days after his last release from prison.
Peter Cheung Kwok-yip, 35, admitted in the Court of First Instance that he indecently assaulted the girl, then 11, on August 31 last year, telling her to shut up if she did not want to die.
"The maximum sentence is insufficient in this case," Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping said. "I think it is time to look at Cheung's case closely. It is not only to help him but also to prevent him from causing danger to society."
The court heard that Cheung had six previous convictions, including four for indecent assault or similar charges between 2002 and 2009, all of which he admitted and for which he was sentenced to jail terms ranging from 28 months to 61/2 years.
In the most recent case, the judge adopted the maximum penalty, 10 years, as a starting point, but reduced the term for Cheung's guilty plea. He was released on August 16.
Toh asked prosecutor Claudia Ng to research other jurisdictions' penalties for similar offenders and see if the law needed changing. She adjourned sentencing to May 7 for background and psychiatric reports.
The court heard that the victim was walking home to Fuk Wa Street, in Sham Shui Po when Cheung grabbed her neck from behind and dragged her to a staircase.
He told her to shut up if she did not want to die, asked for her name and address, then hugged her from behind, grabbing her breast with his left hand and putting his right hand on her stomach.
He hugged her for about 30 seconds before the girl seized an opportunity and fled.
She told her father what happened when she arrived home. A report was made to the police and Cheung was arrested on September 5 last year.
Cheung told the police he saw the victim on the street and decided to follow her as he could not control himself.