Jail for illegals who snatched boy

TWO brothers who kidnapped a 12-year-old boy and demanded a $150,000 ransom after raiding his Tuen Mun home were yesterday each sentenced to 14 years' jail at the High Court.

Lam Hing-yin, 26, and Lam Hing-chue, 23, both illegal immigrants, admitted one count each of robbery and forcible detention.

Their older brother, Lam Hing-loi, 32, and their cousin, Lam Hing-chiu, 29, who helped them after the boy was abducted, also admitted the kidnap charge and were sentenced to six and five years' jail respectively.

Mr Justice Wong said in sentencing the men there was no doubt Lam Hing-yin and Lam Hing-chue were the principal offenders.

Although the boy and his mother did not suffer physically, he highlighted the psychological effects.

He noted that it was too common for people entering Hongkong illegally to commit a serious crime to make quick financial benefit.

It was necessary to make it clear that the court always took a most serious view of this sort of behaviour, said the judge, holding that both offences merited a heavy and deterrent sentence.

He accepted that a distinction should be drawn between the case of the two illegals and the two Hongkong men who took no part in the robbery or the abduction of the boy.

But the judge said the evidence clearly indicated that once Lam Hing-loi and Lam Hing-chiu became aware of the kidnap, they approved of the action and fully participated.

Senior Crown counsel Mr Michael Arthur revealed that the robbery occurred at about 3 am on September 28, 1991, at the home of Mrs Luk Lo Mung-ha, her son, Luk Tin-chu, and her eight-year-old daughter.

The brothers threatened her with knives and stole $1,300 in cash and other valuables. They then forced Tin-chu to go with them before enlisting the help of their brother and cousin.

Tin-chu was taken to a hillside in Sha Tin and tied to a tree while the gang made a demand of $150,000 from his mother.

But after they got $94,000 from Mrs Luk, they discovered that Tin-chu had freed himself and escaped.

The brothers were represented by Mr Stephen Chan Siu-ming, Ms Sze Kin appeared for the older brother and Mr Gary Alderdice for the cousin.