Judgement held on ICAC 'trap'

MR Justice Mayo yesterday reserved judgement on an attempt to stay a prosecution of an amusement games centre operator charged with corruption.

The attempt was made on the grounds that the defendant was entrapped by an undercover ICAC officer.

Lau Wing-wo was charged with offering Mr So Kon-ming $30,000 for processing papers for his amusement games centre in Tsz Wan Shan, Kowloon.

Lau is seeking a judicial review of the magistrate's refusal to stay the case.

Senior Assistant Crown Prosecutor Mr Michael McMahon, in seeking to uphold the decision of magistrate Mr Alan Wright not to stay the case, said the ICAC officer acted properly throughout his investigation of corruption in the Television and EntertainmentLicensing Authority (TELA).

He said undercover operations were unpleasant but necessary.

He refuted allegations by Lau's counsel that Mr So had acted improperly by instigating others to commit offences.

Counsel said Mr So did not participate in a burglary of a TELA office, when papers were taken, photocopied and passed on to help applicants in their court battles against TELA decisions.

Mr So was present when a corrupt TELA official went into the office and removed papers.

Mr McMahon said Mr So had to appear to go along with the conspirators, but he took sensible precautions under difficult circumstances in his 11-month undercover operation.

Mr Desmond Keane, QC, for Lau, reminded the judge that the law was changed last month to allow appeals from criminal judicial reviews to go to the Court of Appeal, instead of having to go to London's Privy Council.

We have been asked by TELA to point out that in our report yesterday ''ICAC officer's scheme 'dirty','' Senior Assistant Crown Prosecutor Mr Michael McMahon said it was not the whole department, but a small section within it, apart from its head, that was corrupt.