Six years' prison for hawker who turned to drugs

A FOOD hawker who agreed to sell drugs when he could not settle a $10,000 gambling debt has been jailed for six years.

Mr Justice Duffy told Lai Chi-wan, 19, that his story was tragically typical.

The judge took a starting point of 11 years for sentence and reduced it for his guilty plea, clear record and remorse.

Lai, 19, admitted two charges of possession of a total of 231 grams of salts of esters of morphine for unlawful trafficking in To Kwa Wan on June 23 last year.

The High Court heard the defendant was stopped by police as he left a building. He tried to flee but was subdued.

Drugs were found on him and he was taken to a flat in the same building where more drugs were found.

He told police he was only earning a living.

In mitigation, counsel Mr William Allan said Lai was not an addict but was dragged into selling heroin because of a mahjong debt he incurred with loansharks in Mongkok.

Lai was earning $6,000 a month as a food hawker when he got into debt.

Mr Allan said Lai realised what he had done was stupid but stressed he was not a bad young man.