IT was possibly the shortest prison term in Hong Kong history. A knife-wielding decorator was sentenced to just three minutes in custody by a District Court judge yesterday. Judge Bailey ruled that Tsoi Kwan-chong, 37, who waved a knife and lobbed tins of luncheon meat during a restaurant brawl would remain in custody until the court rose. The judge left his chair three minutes later. Tsoi's crime - possession of an offensive weapon - carries a mandatory prison term of up to three years, but there is no minimum. 'I'm sure the defendant has learned a bitter lesson from the criminal justice system,' Judge Bailey said before freeing him. 'I urge him to ensure that my trust in him is not misplaced.' Tsoi was found guilty of wounding and possession of an offensive weapon. The decorator became involved in the fight after he and his wife accepted a dinner invitation from butcher Pang Chi-lun and his wife. The couples met on November 28 last year to resolve a long-simmering dispute. But tempers flared just moments after the four sat down at the Fuk Sing Lau restaurant. The butcher threw a tea cup at his adversary, and Tsoi picked up a tin of luncheon meat and flung it at Mr Pang. Tsoi then pulled a beef knife out of his pocket and charged at the butcher. The two wives and other diners rushed into the melee hoping to prevent bloodshed. But the knife gashed the finger of Mr Pang's wife. Tsoi had taken the knife along 'for the purpose of defending himself', the judge noted. 'The defendant was correct to believe that there could well be trouble at the restaurant during the meeting.' He called the decorator's decision to arm himself 'an act of stupidity rather than evil intent'. The judge side-stepped the mandatory custodial sentence by ordering Tsoi be 'imprisoned until the rising of this court'. Tsoi was also fined $10,000 on the wounding charge.