The city's first trial over fake Rugby Sevens tickets ended yesterday with the magistrate striking out a charge of deception against the British defendant after the prosecution's sole witness failed to show up in court to complete his testimony last week.
Christopher McConville, 24, from Liverpool, was fined HK$10,000 in Eastern Court yesterday after pleading guilty to breaching his condition of stay by establishing or joining in a business. The charge is punishable by up to two years in jail.
McConville was earlier charged with obtaining property by deception - which is punishable by up to 10 years in jail - by cheating Norwegian sports ticketing agent Alexander de Sola Torgersen, 33, out of Euro10,000 (HK$99,500) through the sale of 76 forged tickets.
Torgersen gave a one-hour account of the background to the transaction last Thursday. But he did not appear in court on Friday to continue his testimony. The prosecution had arranged for his return to Norway on Friday, after he finished testifying.
Senior public prosecutor Ira Lui Tsz-ming said the witness left Hong Kong on Thursday.
Lui decided that the information from Torgersen was insufficient to establish the deception charge.
Magistrate Li Kwok-wai yesterday ordered police to return Euro2,000 seized from McConville during his arrest, as there was no evidence showing a link between the money and his breach of conditions of stay.
If the prosecution's evidence on the deception charge is accurate, McConville will take home a substantial profit.
McConville entered Hong Kong on a tourist visa in March, days before the annual tournament began. He admitted selling tickets to Torgersen in the city.
Because of the court case, McConville stayed almost two months. Defence counsel John Hemmings said he would not have been forced to stay so long 'had he not been charged with selling forged tickets'.
Li called the trial 'a special case'.