Gangster Yip fails in court appeal

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 1998, 12:00am

Sensational publicity surrounding the arrest of notorious gangster Yip Kai-foon did not prevent him from having a fair trial, appeal judges ruled yesterday.

Yip, who was once Hong Kong's most wanted man, appeared to doze in his wheelchair as the court announced the failure of a challenge to convictions which have left him serving 41 years in jail.

Mr Justice Noel Power said there was no reason for the Court of Appeal to interfere with decisions made by the judge at Yip's trial.

'We cannot accept that the judge lost sight of the fact that he was dealing with an allegedly notorious criminal about whom there had been considerable publicity,' he said.

The court accepted there had been sensational publicity which was potentially prejudicial to Yip's case.

But Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore, who allowed the trial to go ahead, had considered this properly.

He was 'neither plainly wrong as to the law nor in his reasoning', Mr Justice Power said.

Yip's bid to have his sentence reduced was postponed, probably until February, so that all the judges and lawyers involved could be present.

He opened his eyes and whispered to his lawyer that he preferred not to proceed with this part of his case yesterday.

Gary Plowman SC, for Yip, said two doctors, including a specialist in neurological surgery, would provide opinions on Yip's medical condition.

Yip, who has denied allegations by mainland officials that he plotted the kidnapping of two tycoons with 'Big Spender' Cheung Tze-keung, was arrested in Kennedy Town in May last year.

He was gunned down in a shootout with police after escaping from custody and spending six years on the run.

Yip was later found guilty of shooting at police and possessing 1.8kg of explosives.

Mr Plowman had argued that the 'outrageous' publicity which followed his arrest made it impossible to have a fair trial.

Mr Justice Stuart-Moore should have halted the proceedings against Yip for this reason, he said.

Prejudicial publicity, which included a film claimed to be based on Yip's life, had portrayed him as a cold-blooded murderer and showed him committing crimes he had not even been charged with, Mr Justice Power, Mr Justice Barry Mortimer and Mr Justice Simon Mayo heard.

But Mr Justice Power said the judge had given the jury repeated warnings about the importance of reaching their verdicts on the evidence alone.