'Big Spender' gang member Wu Man yesterday pleaded guilty in a Guangdong court to taking part in the kidnapping of tycoon Walter Kwok Ping-sheung in 1997. But Wu's defence lawyers argued he should be given a lenient punishment as he did not share a cent of the $600 million ransom - of which 'Big Spender' Cheung Tze-keung pocketed half. The Guangzhou City Intermediate People's Court, which is expected to hand down its verdict in a month, was also told that Wu, 40, was forced to commit the crime by 'Big Spender', who was executed on the mainland in 1998. Wu, a former property businessman, was escorted in handcuffs to the court at around 9.15am for the two-hour trial, which was only open to his close family members. The penalty for the kidnapping offence ranges from 10 years in jail to death. Leniency was urged because Wu has an elderly mother and two young sons to take care of. His mother and sisters broke down while listening to the proceedings. Wu - whose arrest in Thailand last June while he was travelling with a British National (Overseas) passport sparked a diplomatic row - was charged with kidnapping Mr Kwok, of Sun Hung Kai Properties, in 1997 with other 'Big Spender' gang members. It is understood Wu also faced firearms trafficking charges, which were dropped after the procuratorate failed to gather sufficient evidence. Defence lawyer Liang Chaosen said outside court that a jail term of less than 10 years would sometimes be handed down for kidnapping if the defendant only played a minor role. Sources had earlier said Wu agreed to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. The plea would also back Beijing's claim he had returned from Thailand voluntarily and ease the diplomatic fallout from the case. Wu was accused of helping sandwich Mr Kwok's car by driving a minivan behind it while his accomplices' car intercepted the victim in Beach Road, Repulse Bay, on September 29, 1997. Wu was alleged to have ushered Mr Kwok into their car before taking him to a Fanling hut, binding and blindfolding him. Cheung then ordered the tycoon to strip to his underwear and shoved him into a small wooden box with air holes after Mr Kwok refused to call his family to prepare a ransom. Mr Kwok was beaten before he was released six days later when his family paid a ransom of $600 million. While the offence was committed in Hong Kong, the mainland court said it had jurisdiction as the abduction was plotted by 'Big Spender's' gang on the mainland. An SAR Security Bureau spokesman said Wu was tried under the provisions of criminal laws in the mainland for offences over which the mainland had jurisdiction and Hong Kong could not interfere under the 'one country, two systems' principle. A police spokesman said no officers had been sent to observe Wu's trial as there was no need. It is understood Wu, who had known 'Big Spender' for more than 10 years, was identified by public security officers after Cheung and his accomplices, who faced trial in 1998, named him as a gang member. Wu was snatched outside a Bangkok hotel on June 14 last year at gunpoint by Thai police and Public Security Bureau officers and flown to the mainland. The 'arrest' sparked a diplomatic row between London and Beijing, with Britain complaining that its embassy in Bangkok had not been told of the removal. Beijing said the arrest was legal and both the mainland and Bangkok claimed Wu had 'volunteered' to return. Wu's defence lawyers did not raise the row over the arrest at the trial as they said it would not help his case.