THREE members of an armed gang responsible for injuring 18 people in one of Hong Kong's worst shooting sprees had their life jail sentences quashed by the Court of Appeal yesterday. Sentences of between 32 and 35 years were substituted by the court which ruled that the gunmen deserved credit for their guilty pleas. A fourth man, the gang's mastermind, Fung Wai-hon, 26, was told his life sentence would not be changed. 'We have no doubt his criminal conduct in the present case called for the sentence of life imprisonment which was imposed,' said Mr Justice Mayo. Mr Justice Mayo was sitting with Mr Justice Power and Mr Justice Patrick Chan. The robbery gang went on a gun and grenade rampage on April 24, 1992, the day Chris Patten was appointed Governor. They sprayed bullets indiscriminately into crowds and lobbed grenades injuring four police officers and 14 bystanders, including children. One inspector had a miraculous escape from death when shot in the head from close range. Seventeen vehicles and three shops were damaged as the robbers left a trail of destruction behind them in a desperate bid to escape capture. Mr Justice Duffy, who jailed all four men for life in May last year, told them: 'Words cannot adequately describe the horror and shock that was felt at the enormity of your wanton behaviour.' But the Court of Appeal was told the judge should have allowed the gunmen a discount in their sentences because of their pleas of guilty. It was also submitted that three of the robbers did not fall into the same category as Fung, the clear ringleader, and should therefore receive less severe sentences. Mr Justice Mayo said: 'We can see some merit in this submission. We accept that it is only a most exceptional case which merits life imprisonment. We think the offences committed by those three defendants fall short of this. 'There can however be no doubt that very heavy sentences did have to be imposed on these men to reflect the seriousness of the offences.' Lau Kam-fai, 24, was sentenced to 32 years' jail, Wong Chung-lim, 22, to 35 years, and Liu Ka-yung, 24, the gang's getaway driver, to 34 years. The shootout began when police tried to raid the gang's safe-house in Li Tak Street, Tai Kok Tsui. They met with fierce resistance from the robbers who shot their way out of the premises and hijacked a series of vehicles, including a public light bus and a taxi. The robbers were armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, pistols, a shotgun and hand grenades. The gang had previously been involved in nine armed robberies at jewellery stores in which gold and cash worth $8.66 million were stolen. They admitted shooting with intent and causing explosions. They also pleaded guilty to robbery, hijacking and arms charges.