Lantau Island cow death case postponed over witness omission

Prosecution accused of ‘changing the goal post’ on first day of trial

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 2:44pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 5:33pm

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The prosecutor of a hit-and-run case, in which eight feral cows died on Lantau Island last year, is accused by the defence of over-ruling a court order by omitting a witness at the last minute.

The trial was scheduled to start today, but has been adjourned to Wednesday, because the prosecution team crossed a name off the witness list without notifying the defence in advance.

The witness is a pilot who found the dead cows and called police. He is out of town and will be back on Tuesday night, Tsuen Wan court heard.

Sarah Wilson, as the registered owner of a private car involved in the incident, has pleaded not guilty to failing to submit a police form within 21 days of a crash. The form required her to state her name, address and driving licence number.

It is unclear whether Wilson, a British engineer, was behind the wheel at the time of the Lantau crash in June last year, or whether her car was the one that rammed into the cattle.

The pilot was listed as the first witness by the prosecutor, Nicholas Wong Chun-yin, during two pre-trial reviews in January and February. Wong later decided that the evidence he is going to give has already been agreed by both parties and so crossed out the pilot’s name in an amended agreed facts sheet sent to the defence team last Wednesday, the court heard.

Wilson’s lawyer, William Allan, said he only knew about it today, and accused Wong of “changing the goal post all the time”, which is unfair to Wilson.

“This is very regrettable, very unsatisfactory. My client is very upset, she’s very anxious,” said Allan.

He added that Wong’s releasing a witness who had signed a court summons may cause contempt to the court.

Magistrate Raymond Wong Kwok-fai ruled that Wong failed to notify the defence team of the change in time, and released a witness, which is undesirable. He granted Allan’s application of adjourning the case till Wednesday when the pilot can stand as witness.