‘Pretend we didn’t hear it’: Police officer denies hiding potential evidence after recorder left rolling

Video recording was meant to tape Chu Tak-fai’s police interview following his arrest for allegedly defrauding two sisters of more than HK$3.67 million

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 8:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 9:14pm

A police officer on Wednesday denied sweeping potential evidence under the carpet, after a lawyer revealed a conversation captured when a recording device was not turned off.

The video recording was meant to tape Chu Tak-fai’s police interview following his arrest on July 14 for allegedly defrauding two young sisters of more than HK$3.67 million in three months.

But it continued to roll after Chu had left the room and recorded the officers saying “pretend we didn’t hear it”, “treat [the Dyson fan] as lost” and “you can say those [receipts] are irrelevant”.

One officer was also heard saying: “Those ... we did not seize them that day.”

The dialogue lasted for about 90 seconds, before detective police constable Pat Wah-hong realised and said: “Eh? What is it? Why is it taking so long?”

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“It hasn’t stopped,” his colleague replied.

Chu, 34, had pleaded not guilty to five counts of fraud before judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng at the District Court.

On Wednesday, defence counsel Tony Li suggested Pat coached his client to say that a Dyson fan mentioned by Chu in his first police interview was “broken and lost” in the next interview.

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The officer denied this and said he did not see a fan during a search of Chu’s flat in Yuen Long.

But Li continued: “You also told the defendant to treat the receipts that you haven’t asked about [in the police interview] as flyers, torn and thrown away.”

Again, Pat denied doing so.

The defence is attempting to have Chu’s police interviews – in which he confessed to defrauding the sisters of more than HK$3 million to settle his debts, buy a new Mercedes-Benz and pay his rent at the Olympian Hotel – thrown out.

Li argued that such claims were not made voluntarily as the police had told his client: “You know what will happen if you say something wrong.”

He suggested that the officers had taught Chu to claim all the valuables seized were purchased with the sisters’ money and threatened to drag his wife and mother into the case if he did not cooperate.

All the officers recorded an identical time. It felt like everyone was wearing the same watch
Tony Li, defence counsel

He also suggested that Pat had forced his client to sign acknowledgements in the officer’s notebook, and quoted him as saying: “You will suffer if you do not sign.”

“I did not say that,” the officer replied.

Pat also denied that officers had discussed among themselves the timing of events before recording them in their statements.

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“All the officers recorded an identical time,” Li noted. “It felt like everyone was wearing the same watch.”

Li said his client had told police officers that the jewellery found in his safe at the hotel was purchased with his winnings from horse racing. But Pat testified: “He didn’t say so.”

The trial continues.