Man jailed for holding up Hong Kong money exchange with a fake grenade and air pistol

Defendant says he never intended to hurt anyone and he needed the money to pay back loan sharks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 8:30am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 8:30am

An unemployed man who robbed a money exchange for HK$150,000 to pay back debts to cover the medical costs of his late girlfriend was jailed for eight years on Thursday.

The High Court heard that on July 12 last year, Yau Hoi-shan, 36, approached Hui’s Brothers Money Exchange Company in Wan Chai and threatened staff to give him HK$200,000 or they would all die. He took out a green grenade-like object and pulled out its safety pin, leaving staff with no alternative but to hand over HK$100,000 and 50,000 yuan.

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Upon his arrest, Yau told police he owed HK$200,000 to five or six money lenders in Hong Kong and another 35,000 yuan to a loan shark in mainland China.

Defence counsel William Lam said in mitigation that the offence was committed out of desperation as the loan shark had threatened to harass the defendant’s family and set his house on fire.

Yau also wrote to Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping explaining that although he showed up with a fake grenade and air pistol, he never intended to hurt anyone.

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“The cause of the incident was my girlfriend who I was in love with for 18 years and had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus,” he wrote. “Running out of means, I had no choice but to buy a fake gun and a fake grenade.”

Lam said his client spent the loaned money on treating his girlfriend who was diagnosed with the brain condition in 2015, but the documentary proof had been kept by the girl’s family. The woman died two months before Yau’s crime.

Yau pleaded guilty to one count of robbery.