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Crime in Hong Kong

Ex-Ming Pao journalist found guilty of taking upskirt photos of female reporters

Court heard that victims were concerned about reporting Chow Chin-hung, 37, to police as they feared their superiors would protect him

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 September, 2017, 9:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 1:41pm

A former principal reporter for a prominent Hong Kong newspaper faces jail after being found guilty on Wednesday of taking upskirt photos of two colleagues in the newsroom two years ago.

The Eastern Court heard that the women were worried about reporting their cases to police, with one of them revealing her concern that Chow Chin-hung, 37, might be protected by her superiors due to his status as a principal reporter.

The former Ming Pao Daily journalist did not react when the magistrate convicted him of two counts of obtaining access to a computer with a view to dishonest gain for oneself or another, while acquitting him of a third count of the same charge relating to a third woman.

Chow had denied all the charges, insisting during trial that he had not taken any photos.

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A police search of his smartphone did not turn up any photos related to the allegations.

But magistrate Cheng Lim-chi found the women to be honest and reliable witnesses, and observed that sufficient time had passed for Chow to delete the photos before his arrest.

The court heard that in June 2015, a female reporter sat hunched at her seat tidying her drawer when she noticed Chow raising his phone facing her chest before tapping the screen twice.

She did not immediately call police out of concern that her superiors might protect Chow, given his status as principal reporter.

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Weeks later, another female reporter came across Chow at the copy room and they spoke briefly. She assumed that Chow had left the room after their conversation, only to find him crouching on the floor, with his phone placed almost between her legs and in camera mode.

Certain that he was taking upskirt photos, the reporter grew very scared but struggled to report Chow as she had known him to be a trustworthy senior whom she did not think was capable of such conduct.

Chow was finally reported in August that year after a third female reporter claimed that he took upskirt photos of her while she was tidying her desk at the office.

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The magistrate found Chow guilty of the charges involving the second and third incidents, rejecting his claims that he was only tying his shoelaces or that he was not tall enough to hold his phone under the woman’s skirt.

“The defendant’s explanation was completely unreasonable,” Cheng said.

But he cleared Chow in the first incident despite noting his conduct was suspicious, after finding that he could be using his phone for other purposes.

Chow left Ming Pao in 2015.

One of his then superiors and an incumbent lawmaker were said to have written in his mitigation. But neither of the letters were signed by their authors.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 27, pending reports on Chow’s background and psychological condition.