Hong Kong robber jailed after 30 years on the run

Man gave himself up to police after returning home from mainland China ‘his own way’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 10:58pm

A Hong Kong man who fled to mainland China 30 years ago to evade justice for a robbery in which a goldsmith and his wife were slashed with beef cleavers received a four-year jail sentence on Monday after returning to the city “his own way”.

Fong Chun-hung, 66, part of a three-man gang that carried out the attack, jumped bail in 1986 after he was brought before a court.

He returned in June last year in what his lawyer called “his own way” – meaning he did not go through normal immigration procedures.

The phrase was made popular when Hong Kong bookseller Lee Po used it to explain how he disappeared in the city and later resurfaced on the mainland last year without leaving an official travel record. Critics feared Lee was abducted by mainland agents, but Lee denied this.

Fong surrendered to police upon his return. He pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

In mitigation, Fong said he had been jailed on the mainland since 1997 for separate offences and had been unable to return to Hong Kong.

But Deputy High Court Judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong dismissed the claim, saying the defendant still could not explain why he had not returned to face justice before 1997.

He said Fong’s offence was serious in that it was a premeditated and motivated by money, and they had used false police identities to deceive two defenceless people.

However, he noted that Fong had given himself in 15 days after being released on the mainland. “That could be treated as a sign of remorse.”

The judge set the sentence at five years, but reduced it by a year.

The court heard the robbery took place at a goldsmith factory in Yau Ma Tei on April 28, 1986. Three men, including Fong, got inside by claiming to be police officers checking for illegal immigrants.

They then pulled out two cleavers and what appeared to be a gun. The goldsmith was slashed twice on the head and his wife suffered a cut to her hand.

The court heard that Fong fled Hong Kong in 1986 to see his dying father. He stayed on the mainland after starting a family but decided to return to the city “to put an end to things”.