A lunchtime mahjong session turned into a shootout when three armed robbers unwittingly tried to hold up four plain-clothes police officers in March 1994, an inquest heard yesterday. Four wounds were found in the body of alleged robber Cheung Hoi-ming, 30. The Coroner's Court heard one of the bullets had passed through Cheung's left arm and re-entered his body, lodging in his chest. Constable Cheung Ying-tong, 35, who had fired one shot at the 30-year-old, told the inquest he and his colleagues were playing mahjong in a clubhouse when the three armed men came in and held them up. Constable Cheung said he and three other constables from Yau Ma Tei police station had just finished an anti-burglary patrol along Ferry Street by lunchtime on March 28, 1994. They decided to go to a club for fishermen in Canton Road to pass the time. At about 2.25 pm, as the policemen's lunch break was ending, the three robbers entered the unlocked premises. The constable said Cheung Hoi-ming and an accomplice, Sung Wai-bing, each held a gun at them. A third, Lai Kin-ming, had a ball of string which he had ready to tie up the policemen. When Cheung lowered his gun slightly, the constable said he seized the moment, shouting 'police!', and a shootout ensued. The constable said he fired one shot at Cheung and three at Sung. His colleague, Constable Ching Chak-kin, 32, testified he had fired two shots at Cheung until the man fell down. He then aimed at Sung and fired three shots before the armed man ran away. Constable Lo Kwok-leung, 33, told the court he was at first held hostage by Cheung. But hearing his partner shout 'police!', he drew his service revolver and fired towards Cheung. The officer handcuffed Cheung after he had fallen down, to make sure the robber was under control. Meanwhile, the fourth constable, Ho Hin-kwan, 33, was hiding under the mahjong table and heard shots flying above him. Lai, who had also been wounded, was arrested in the corridor and later sent to jail for 13 years for the attempted robbery and for three earlier robberies. He was also convicted of possession of a firearm. Sung was arrested one year later in China. He was given 21 years. A jury of three yesterday returned a verdict of lawful killing in Cheung Hoi-ming's death.