TWO brothers who took part in a knife-point robbery to ease their sick mother's fears that the family faced financial ruin have each been jailed for 12 years. Mr Justice Saied handed down the sentence in the High Court yesterday on Liu Yuen-on, 18, and Liu Yuen-ping, 19. The pair, who had never before been in trouble with the law, kept secret from their mother the method they intended to employ in solving the family's problems. They teamed up with Cheng Hoi-pong, 20, a drug addict with a string of convictions, who was the ringleader. He also got a 12-year jail term. Wearing masks and brandishing bread knives, they raided the Ricky Tattoo shop in Wan Chai on August 16 last year. Prosecutor Joseph Wong said three employees were tied up and blindfolded while the robbers spent half an hour ransacking the premises. Victims Lo Yuk-kan, 60, Cheung Koon-chung, 46, and Chow Chor-wing, 44, were slashed with knives when they refused to reveal pin numbers for their bank cards. The men stole cash, a Rolex watch and other items of jewellery worth $41,800, but were captured by police as they left the building. Mr Wong said Cheng admitted planning the robbery with the brothers - buying knives and masks, and cutting the victims' arms. Duncan Percy, defending the brothers, told the judge of their plight as the family sank into a severe cash crisis. He said they decided to commit robbery after their mother, Yeung Chow-foon, 55, admitted to the elder brother that she had pawned all her valuables and could not pay the rent. Mr Percy said: 'The mother was clearly very worried about meeting any future bills for the family. Under that direct or indirect pressure, they felt bound to do something about it.' The court heard there were seven siblings, the youngest being 15. One daughter had emigrated and the others lived in the family's two adjoining estate flats. Mr Percy said the mother had worked as a waitress all her life, earning $4,000 a month. But she had fallen ill and was unable to continue working. Her husband was retired. The accused had lost their jobs at a restaurant, which made matters worse. Mr Percy said the cash crisis was not helped by the idleness of two elder brothers. Both were married and had children but remained unemployed. Mr Percy said: 'These two defendants felt there was an unfair burden on them to contribute large sums of their income to the family pool.' While working, the defendants had contributed almost half of their wages, he said. Liu Yuen-on told police: 'I have never been nicked before. I had no other way but to rob.' All three defendants pleaded guilty to robbery, wounding, and assault, causing actual bodily harm. Mr Justice Saied said the attack on the helpless victims was 'a vicious and inexcusable act of violence'.