New evidence will clear me, claims gangster Yip

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 April, 1999, 12:00am

Defiant gangster Yip Kai-foon claims new evidence can prove his innocence and told judges yesterday he was deter mined to clear his name.

The notorious gunman, once Hong Kong's most wanted man, succeeded in having his sentence reduced by five years in the Court of Appeal.

This leaves him serving 36 years and three months for escaping from custody, kidnapping, shooting at police and possessing a potentially devastating haul of explosives.

Mr Justice Noel Power said Yip, 38, and his gang had come close to 'declaring war on society' and his crimes were of the most serious kind.

But the length of the sentence was too harsh and was therefore reduced.

Yip immediately urged the judges to reopen his appeal and to allow him to take his case to the top court to argue he was the victim of a grave injustice.

The gang boss, paralysed by gunshot wounds suffered in a shootout with police, had been portrayed by his lawyers as a pitiful shadow of the man he once was. During earlier court hearings he had appeared to be barely able to stay awake as he shivered in his wheelchair, attended to by a nurse.

But after sacking his lawyers, Yip launched himself into the frontline of the legal battle yesterday.

Gesturing angrily from his wheelchair and raising his voice, he accused his lawyers of gross incompetence in their handling of the trial and appeal.

Yip claimed he had been the victim of a frame-up, argued the jury was prejudiced against him, and said new forensic evidence should be called to support his case.

Yip said he had wanted a ballistics expert to be called on his behalf.

He told the court no traces of gunpowder were found on him or his clothing, his fingerprints were not on the pistol he allegedly used, and the policeman who shot him fired from a closer range than claimed in court.

Mr Justice Power, sitting with Mr Justice Barry Mortimer and Mr Justice Simon Mayo, said Yip must make a formal written application if he wanted to reopen his appeal. But he has a right to ask the Court of Final Appeal to consider his case.