A KITCHEN worker who blinded a chief inspector in one eye avoided a prison sentence yesterday after a judge concluded the officer may have instigated the attack. Tong Kin-fong, 22, who worked in the canteen of Police Headquarters in Wan Chai, was sent to a detention centre after the District Court judge found him guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the 44-year-old inspector. Tong denied the charge and claimed the inspector struck the first blow, kicking him in the back as he walked away from an argument with the officer. But Chief Inspector Chan Ho-ip had testified that Tong had suddenly pounced on him as he tried to defuse a fight in a billiard parlour. A witness supported Tong's version of events. Deputy Judge Wright said: 'In light of the conflicts which exist in the Crown's case it is unsafe for me to find categorically that there was an unprovoked attack by the defendant on the inspector.' But the judge said, wherever the truth lay, there could be no excuse for Tong's actions. Even if Chief Inspector Chan did strike the first blow, it was the kitchen worker's choice to turn around and confront him. 'Had he not elected to follow that course we would not be standing here today and Chief Inspector Chan would have both eyes,' he said. The officer said he went to the Sheung Shui Billiard Centre to meet one of the owners. When he arrived, he found one of the staff members arguing with a rowdy gang who had been disturbing other patrons, prosecutor Thomas Iu said. The officer told the court he approached Tong and identified himself as a policeman. When Tong began hurling insults, the officer told him to go outside and get some fresh air, Chief Inspector Chan testified. The kitchen worker then attacked, slamming his fist into the officer's eye. The blow shattered the policeman's spectacles, driving shards of glass into Chief Inspector Chan's left eyeball. The inspector claims Tong then urged others to join in the attack. The next morning, the officer awoke to learn he had lost his left eye.