Hong Kong police officer loses appeal in abuse of power case for free sex with prostitute
Court finds claim he was ‘observing vice activities’ dubious
A Hong Kong police sergeant convicted of abusing his power as an officer to have free sex with a prostitute lost his appeal on Thursday after the court rejected his “unrealistic” account of being framed while on duty to “observe a pattern of vice activities”.
Chu Chi-ho was last year sentenced to 20 months in jail after being convicted of misconduct in public office. The court heard that, in 2014, he had sexual intercourse with a mainland woman and then refused to pay, threatening to lock her up in detention if she did not leave Hong Kong in three hours.
He told police during the investigation that he was framed by the woman – known in court as X to protect her identity – and her friends.
He said he had decided to tail the woman who “smiled” at him. Chu claimed his actions were part of his patrol duty to “observe the pattern of vice activities” that night.
But a panel of three appeal court judges rejected his defence on Thursday, questioning the number of times Chu had met those he claimed were framing him prior to the incident.
The officer, the judges noted, could not even recall other instances he had embarked on similar missions, while X had only arrived in the city 14 hours before she met Chu.
“It seems to us unrealistic, therefore, that X and some possible others would have [singled out] the appellant and set him up on that random night in question,” Mr Justice Derek Pang Wai-cheong wrote in a judgment.
“It defies one as to how X and her collaborators were sufficiently prescient to know that the appellant would be led by a smile or a wink,” he wrote. Court of Appeal vice-president Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen and Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Siu-chor agreed.
Although the three justices ruled that the lower court judge who presided over the trial had made an error, they said it fell short of being a miscarriage of justice and thus Chu’s conviction should be upheld.
The incident began in the early hours of May 28, 2014, on Temple Street in Yau Ma Tei, when Chu approached X to inquire about the price of her services. X had arrived from mainland China the day before.
After Chu was taken to a room in the area, he declared his identity as a police officer, and took hold of X’s phone, as well as her travel documents.
He asked X if she wanted to “go back immediately or be detained for seven says”. Feeling frightened, X offered Chu her services.
The pair had sex and Chu, refusing to pay, threatened to detain X again.
He also told her to leave Hong Kong by the Huangguan immigration checkpoint in no more than three hours, to which X obliged.
She returned to the mainland and informed a person called “Lan Je” of the incident. X then came back to the city the following morning to report the matter to police, leading to Chu’s arrest two days later.
During the appeal, Chu’s counsel, David Boyton, argued that X’s phone conversation with Lan Je should not reinforce her credibility and accusations against his client.
The appeal court found that the matter had not been properly addressed at the lower court and after considering the legal argument, ruled in Chu’s favour.
But the court said there were still sufficient grounds to convict him.
They said it was peculiar that Chu had followed X all the way to her room if he was really on patrol, when he could have just inquired about her services upon meeting her.