A disgraced former school supervisor, found to have conned a parent into granting HK$200,000 to help fund a merger that later failed, has been sent to jail for 15 months.
Carman Liang Shuk-ching, a former winner of the Medal of Honour and described as a passionate and dedicated educator, was sentenced in the District Court yesterday on one count of fraud.
Deputy Judge Don So Man-lung said the offence involved a large amount of money and a violation of integrity.
Liang, 47, a former supervisor of the Pegasus Philip Wong Kin Hang Christian School, who had pleaded not guilty, had been in custody since she was convicted earlier this month. She was cleared of a second fraud charge related to another loan to the school.
Liang was found to have induced Tam Chi-shuk to pay HK$200,000 to Pegasus Social Service Christian Organisation, then the school's sponsoring body, to help fund a proposed merger of the Kwun Tong school with Sear Rogers International School.
Tam told the court that Liang had persuaded her to grant the loan to repay debentures to parents at Sear Rogers as a precondition for the merger. In fact, the school had never granted such debentures.
The court heard yesterday that Liang had recently repaid the money to Tam.
After considering a background and medical report, the judge rejected a plea from the defence for a suspended sentence.
He said suspension would be inappropriate due to the seriousness of the offence and the fact that it involved violation of integrity and a large sum of money.
But he allowed a deduction of five months from a starting point of 20 months after taking into account her health, the return of the money and the lack of evidence that she had obtained personal financial gain.
The defence presented about 30 mitigation letters from former students, colleagues and parents who described Liang as a passionate educator who was dedicated to her work despite suffering from arthritis.
She appeared calm during the sentencing, but a friend, who did not give his name, said later outside court that he was worried about her health.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen awarded Liang the Medal of Honour in 2008 for her 'outstanding and dedicated community service in Kwun Tong district'.
The Pegasus Social Service Christian Organisation took the unusual step of withdrawing its sponsorship of the school in 2009 amid concerns over its finances. It reopened the same year as the Fukien Primary School.
The number of mitigation letters submitted to the District Court on behalf of former school supervisor Carman Liang Shuk-ching