A man involved in a bitter boundary dispute with a neighbouring family has become the first person ever to be convicted under an offence that has been on the city's statute books for more than two decades.
Chan Hon-kay, 51, was found guilty of failing to prevent an electrical accident, an offence under the Electricity Ordinance, after his neighbour's pregnant sheep was killed and his neighbour was injured after coming into contact with an electric fence that Chan built.
The offence carries a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and a prison sentence of up to six months. The prosecution told Fanling Court that the case was the first ever prosecution for the offence. The ordinance was enacted in 1990.
Handing down her verdict yesterday, Deputy Magistrate Cherry Hui Shuk-yee ruled that Chan deliberately set up the device and connected it to the power supply at a grocery store he ran.
She told Chan she did not believe his claim that he had never been to the area where the fence was placed - on the slope at Ma Tso Lung Road in Lok Ma Chau.
The court heard yesterday that on July 29 last year the father of the ewe's owner rushed to the scene after hearing the animal's moans.
The man found wiring wrapped around the neck of the sheep and discovered that two other sheep had fallen to the ground.
When he tried to rescue the sheep, he suffered an electric shock and passed out for about two minutes.
After regaining consciousness, the court heard, he saw Chan gathering up wiring.
According to a medical report, the man was found to have suffered minor injuries.
Hui also disputed claims by the defence that the owner of the sheep and her father could have framed Chan.
Chan's defence had claimed that the two families had been in dispute over the boundary between their two properties and the burning of pig excrement.
The magistrate said the claim by Chan, a decorator by trade, that he had been working at the time of the offence was not trustworthy as an alibi.
The court heard that the owner of the sheep ran a farm close to Chan's home and grocery store, keeping 22 animals.
Hui told Chan that he could face prison, adding: "In the worst-case scenario, the electrified fence could have caused human casualties."
She adjourned sentencing to February 21, pending background reports on the defendant. Chan was remanded in custody.