An indebted university graduate who used an airgun in a failed attempt to rob the shop where he worked was jailed for four years and eight months yesterday.
The sentence was passed on Cheung Chung-man after he submitted more than 40 letters of support, including expressions of forgiveness from the former colleagues he had tried to rob.
Cheung pleaded guilty in the Court of First Instance to one count of attempted robbery, saying he had been desperate to repay a HK$28,000 credit card debt.
His attempt failed when Law Chin-hang, 22, a colleague he had ordered at gunpoint to open a safe, triggered an alarm and he was overpowered by others.
"I was moved by the letters," Deputy Judge Woo Kwok-hing said, adding that he found Law's forgiveness for Cheung to be genuine. The judge said that after considering all the circumstances of the case, he would adopt a lighter starting point, jailing Cheung for four years and eight months.
The court heard that Cheung, a City University graduate, had worked at an electronic appliance company in Tsim Sha Tsui since March 2013.
On the morning of October 13 last year, he entered the shop wearing a wig, sunglasses and a mask as staff were rolling up the gate. But a staff member recognised him and started giggling.
Cheung then ordered the staff to use plastic straps to tie up their hands. He pointed the airgun at the back of Law's head and ordered him to open the safe, adding, "If you still can't open it, I'll open it for you."
But Law failed to enter the correct password three times and triggered the alarm.
Lawyer Newman Wong said Cheung was in debt because he had used the money to pay for student association activities.
He did not want to ask his parents for help and foolishly decided to commit robbery instead. His parents were shocked and said they would have been willing to help him settle his debt if he had asked.