A JUDGE yesterday hit out at the Legal Department for failing to take a serious wounding case to the High Court for trial. Judge Sweeney jailed 58-year-old Tong Bing-lau for seven years - the maximum which can be imposed in the District Court. He told Tong that he was 'fortunate' his case was heard in the District Court as he would have faced a heavier penalty had the trial been in the High Court. 'I found it surprising that the Crown saw fit to run this case in the District Court where our sentencing power was limited,' Judge Sweeney told the court. He said if the case had been before the High Court, the proper sentence would have been 10 to 15 years. Prosecutor Peter Cosgrove told the court Tong and about a dozen men armed with beef knives attacked 36-year-old grocer Chu Chun-ming at Wing Lee Mahjong School in Shamshuipo on June 13, 1990. Mr Chu suffered multiple chopping wounds and was taken to Caritas Medical Centre. The court heard his right middle finger was amputated, his limbs were scarred to such an extent that nerves were severed and he lost the use of his left arm. Judge Sweeney said the wounds were among the worst he had ever seen on a chopping victim. 'He was lucky to have survived this attack,' he said. The victim spent weeks in hospital and is still receiving treatment. He told the court he had to give up his job as a cook because he could not use his left hand properly. Mr Cosgrove said Mr Chu was attacked because he had told a Thai prostitute not to repay a large amount of interest built up on a $12,000 loan she had taken out with the defendant. Tong had escaped to China, but gave himself up at Shamshuipo police station on February 4 after five years on the run. Judge Sweeney told the court it was a 'vicious attack' and the defendant had 'destroyed the victim's life' in protecting his loan-shark territory. Tong was found guilty of wounding with intent. Yesterday, a spokesman from the Legal Department said that he could not comment on Judge Sweeney's remarks until the department had studied his judgment and the counsel's report. The maximum sentence in the High Court for a charge of wounding with intent could be life imprisonment, he said.