A CUSTOMS officer involved in a cross-border car smuggling ring, who was given a suspended sentence last month, must now serve a four-year jail term after the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial judge had made errors, including getting facts wrong. In the District Court on March 10, Ng Sheung-chun, 32, admitted conspiring between December 1991 and February this year to offer advantages to other customs officers and conspiring to accept advantages himself to let vehicles carrying unmanifested goods across the border. Deputy Judge Li sentenced him to 20 months' jail, suspended for three years, because his wife and children suffered from severe asthma. Crown Counsel Mr Kevin Zervos yesterday asked the Court of Appeal to send Ng to jail, arguing that the sentence was inadequate and wrong in principle. Ng's counsel, Mr Gerard McCoy, conceded from the start he could not support a suspended sentence, but said any custodial sentence should not be for more than 20 months. Mr McCoy said the judge had made a ''catalogue of errors'' - on the sentencing starting point, suspending the sentence and substantial errors of fact. He said the defence had not sought a suspended sentence and Deputy Judge Li had given enormous false hope by the sentence he passed. Mr Zervos said the judge made a fundamental error of fact about the role of a senior customs officer who had been sentenced to two years' jail and had wrongly tried to ensure Ng's sentence was lower. The judge had also been wrong in his starting point of 30 months. Mr Zervos suggested a starting point of five to seven years would be more appropriate. He said the judge had erred in suspending the sentence and had completely failed to give a deterrent penalty. Urging the court not to impose more than a 20-month sentence, Mr McCoy said Ng had pleaded guilty and had co-operated with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The alleged mastermind was awaiting trial and Ng had promised to give evidenceagainst him, he said. But he could not agree with Deputy Judge Li's reasons for suspending the sentence because of the family's medical problems. After Ng was released last month he was taken to a safe house by the ICAC and is now in protective custody in prison. Mr McCoy said he was concerned the judge had given two versions of the reasons for sentence, as he was not entitled to do this. A number of the reasons included in the second version had not been given when sentencing Ng in public, which was a breach of natural justice, he said. Delivering the Court of Appeal's judgement, Mr Justice Macdougall said that in both the judge's reasons for sentence he was at pains to point out the role of a senior customs inspector, Li Chi-wah, who he described as the brains and controller of the customs end of the operation, and who he said had recruited Ng. Mr Justice Macdougall said this was wrong as Ng had admitted recruiting Li. Li is serving a two-year prison term. The court held that by passing concurrent sentences, Deputy Judge Li overlooked the fact that the two charges against Ng were conspiracies to commit very different offences - accepting bribes and corrupting other customs officers. Further, the judge had misconstrued two previous cases, which he believed allowed him to suspend Ng's sentence, the Court of Appeal held. Mr Justice Macdougall said the court had no hesitation in saying suspended sentences for offences of this gravity were completely inappropriate. The court held that a sentence of six years after trial would have been appropriate, but reduced it because of mitigating factors to a total of four years.