Five-times champion horse trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee will spend his third consecutive birthday in prison after the Court of Appeal increased his sentence for vote-buying to 12 months yesterday.
Kan, 75, had already served his original three-month sentence and failed twice to have his conviction overturned when prosecutors appealed against the sentence.
Prosecutor William Tam Yiu-ho said yesterday that in less serious election fraud cases, such as vote-planting, offenders were usually jailed for four months. In more serious cases such as buying votes, the sentences were about 12 months.
"The conduct of paying money to buy votes is the worst kind of corruption," Tam said.
Chief Judge Andrew Cheung Kui-nung, with vice-president Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen and Madam Justice Maria Yuen Ka-ning set the longer term.
Kan managed a smile for his friends and wished them good luck at the races. After the ruling, he shook hands with his lawyers and said: "Never mind."
The court heard he had paid HK$130,000 to a village representative when he was seeking election to the executive committee of the Sheung Shui District Rural Committee.
Kan, born on November 24, 1937, had his first jail birthday after his original conviction in November 2011.
He was allowed bail pending appeal two weeks later. But he lost the appeal in November last year and was sent to finish his sentence, serving his second birthday in prison. His final attempt to clear his name failed in the Court of Final Appeal in July this year. A month later, the Department of Justice applied to the Court of Appeal for a review.
Tam said the amount Kan had paid was substantial and it was a small-pool election which made the case more serious.
The seat Kan was seeking had the potential to take him to the local district council, the Legislative Council or even to vote for the chief executive, he said. The three-month sentence was "manifestly inadequate".
Barrister Graham Harris, SC, asked the court to consider that Kan had already served his sentence and was a man in his 70s.
Kan trained more than 830 race winners in his career.
Video: Horses, money, politics and prison: The life of Hong Kong's most successful horse trainer, Brian Kan