A DISTRICT Court judge erred to terminate a blackmail trial before the Crown had called all its evidence, the Court of Appeal held yesterday. The Court of Appeal agreed that the trial judge had jumped the gun when he acquitted Lau Chi-yung and Ying Tsang-kwong, ruling that they had no case to answer. The court, comprising Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang, Vice-President Mr Justice Silke and Mr Justice Bokhary, allowed the Crown's appeal by way of case stated, reversed the verdict and ordered that the pair be retried before another judge. Lau, 22, and Ying, 18, had denied blackmailing newspaper vendor Mr Ma Sze-wah. Lau also pleaded not guilty to a similar charge. It was the Crown's case that when Mr Ma was working at his newspaper stand on January 18, last year, he was approached by Lau, asking him for tor di - a local bullies' fee. He was said to have taken $200 from Mr Ma and warned him not to report the matter to the police or he would be chopped to death. Lau returned a week later with Ying, demanding another $200, but Mr Ma refused, it was alleged. Mr Ma gave evidence in the trial, but after he was cross-examined by defence counsel, the judge decided to stop the proceedings despite the prosecuting counsel having been instructed to proceed. The trial judge decided that Mr Ma's testimony was inconsistent with his witness statement. Deputy Crown Prosecutor Mr Grenville Cross, QC, in the case stated submitted that it was important that the court should not prejudge the case, and it was improper to decide whether there was a case to answer or not until all the evidence had been adduced. In stopping the trial, the judge did not even invite the prosecution to make submissions on the evidence tendered and to be tendered. Counsel for Lau and Ying, Mr John Mullick, confirmed that he could not resist the Crown's application.