In perhaps a first in Hong Kong legal history, a drug smuggler who had an assault conviction overturned by the Court of Final Appeal using forged documents was convicted yesterday of perverting the course of public justice.
Brian Alfred Hall, who is believed to be Nigerian, was convicted by Judge Eddie Yip Chor-man in the District Court of three charges of perverting the course of public justice and one charge of using false instruments, to which he had pleaded not guilty.
Hall was labelled a 'vexatious litigant' in 2008 due to his penchant for taking legal action from behind bars, where he is serving time for trafficking cocaine. Other than the Court of Final Appeal case, he attempted to use fake documents in two magistracy cases.
Hall will be sentenced to a maximum of seven years next Thursday.
The case stemmed from allegations that Hall punched a prison officer, Ho Kwok-keung, three times in the chest when he tried to take away his newspaper. Two alleged witness statements by prison officers presented later in the Court of Final Appeal claimed Hall had splashed water and thrown a chair at Ho instead. The difference between the two accounts undermined Ho's credibility and the conviction was quashed. A legal scholar questioned why no red flags were raised by the Department of Justice when he introduced fresh evidence into his 2008 Court of Final Appeal hearing. The case could become an embarrassment for both the justice department and Hong Kong's highest court.
'The Department of Justice will have to carry the bulk of the responsibility,' said University of Hong Kong legal scholar Simon Young. The Department of Justice was sure to face questions as to why it did not carefully inspect the evidence, he said.
Correctional Services Department officials had raised the alarm over the documents and the police were investigating the claims months before the Court of Final Appeal hearing.
The Department of Justice had also been informed about the documents before the case concluded.
There were 15 fake documents in total, including medical reports and witness statements, among them a document allegedly signed by a former assistant commissioner of the Correctional Services Department, Chan Kong-sang.
Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos said: 'Once the appeal process is complete, we'll be making an application to go back to the Court of Final Appeal in light of the conviction.'
Not surprisingly, Hall vowed to appeal against the decision.
Brian Hall has launched more than this many lawsuits from his cell, including one for not having access to a Swiss brand of body lotion