Hong Kong bank employee gets apology in court from tearful man charged with attempted robbery
Defendant ‘owed people a lot of money’ and worried about his wife and son
A recycling company owner on Tuesday cried and apologised in a Hong Kong court to a bank employee who accused him of attempted robbery two years ago.
The alleged victim, Ng Yin-fun, recalled that a very emotional man – whom she later identified as Lau Wai-keung in court – had walked into her Sha Tin branch of the Bank of Communications shortly after 4pm on June 18, 2015, and shouted: “Robbery!”
The High Court heard Lau then took out two glass bottles from a red plastic bag and threw one of them at the empty lobby.
“I smelled thinner when the bottle smashed,” Ng said. “Then he pointed the other glass bottle at me.”
In his other hand was a lighter, which Ng said was only 10 inches away from her.
“I was very scared,” she testified. Surveillance footage showed her covering her face with documents for some time.
“He said the triads forced him, the loan sharks forced him, he owed people a lot of money,” she added. “He said he was worried about the safety of his wife and son.”
Ng said Lau mentioned a sum of HK$2 million, then HK$5 million, and later, more than HK$10 million.
Three rows away, Lau was seen looking up at the dock, his face red. He sniffled and wiped his eyes and nose with a crumpled tissue paper.
The 45-year-old businessman has pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted robbery, alleging that he tried to rob Ng and her colleague Wu Ka-man.
But he instructed his counsel Bruce Tse Chee-ho to apologise to Ng on his behalf, before a jury of three men and four women.
Tse suggested that his client had made a phone call during the hour-long incident during which he said: “I’m in a bank now. Are you happy?”
And the other party was quoted as replying: “You’re crazy. Don’t reveal our matters.”
Ng did not hear the alleged reply. But she agreed that Lau had voluntarily put down the glass bottle and raised his hands when he learned from police that both his wife and son were safe.
When asked how police comforted Lau, Ng quoted one as saying: “Calm down because I am very scared, and the lady next to you is very scared.”
The bank employee agreed to a defence suggestion that she quickly became less nervous and recalled that Lau knelt down twice and apologised repeatedly.
“He was still very emotional,” Tse suggested. “Very forlorn, full of sorrow.”
“Very sad,” Ng replied.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick Li Hon-leung.