Yip all smiles as he is jailed for 41 years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 1997, 12:00am

Defiant gangster Yip Kai-foon flashed a grin from the dock yesterday as he was jailed for 41 years.

Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore said Yip was an extremely dangerous professional criminal, telling him: 'You have little or no respect for human life.' But the territory's most notorious criminal, whose reign of terror came to an end when he was gunned down by police, could not resist one last gesture of contempt.

Yip, 35, was found guilty in the High Court of possessing arms and ammunition, using a gun to resist arrest and having 1.8 kilograms of explosives with intent to endanger life or property.

He also admitted escaping from custody in 1989 and kidnapping a man and his six-year-old son.

Yip was given a 30-year term for these crimes. But the sentence will not start until he has finished serving a 16-year sentence for firearms offences imposed in 1985, which still has 11 years to run.

Yip was shot three times during a gun battle with police moments after stepping off a fishing boat in Kennedy Town in the early hours of May 13 last year.

His wounds have left him confined to a wheelchair and facing the possibility of dying of old age behind bars.

The earliest he will be released, with full remission, is 2022 when he will be 60 years old, but the judge refused to consider his poor health.

Mr Justice Stuart-Moore said Yip's armoury meant he was bent on committing a major crime.

'You were a professional criminal. Your equipment indicates that no one would have been permitted to stand in your way,' he said.

'If you had detonated a bomb of this magnitude, it is almost inevitable that ordinary citizens would have been killed or maimed.' A deterrent sentence was necessary in order to protect the police, he said.

Defence counsel Gary Plowman QC, persuaded the judge not to impose a life sentence, although the 41-year term may turn out to be longer because prisoners serving life can be considered for release after only five years.

Mr Plowman said Yip's injuries meant he was no longer a danger to the public.

'He has suffered horrific and permanent injuries and is in constant pain. He is going to suffer incredible hardship in prison,' he said.

'He has paid dearly for his involvement in these offences.' The Correctional Services Department said it had facilities for disabled prisoners, but added: 'While the media may look on him as an infamous celebrity, we regard him as just another prisoner.' Three policemen responsible for arresting Yip were commended by the judge for their 'outstanding bravery'.

He said Chow Hau-leung, Tam Kin-fung, and Chan Chi-sing were owed a debt of gratitude from society.

Yip's brother said later they would appeal.

'The court needed to please society. Whether there were doubts or not, the result was always going to be the same,' he said.