A District Court judge yesterday said mainland criminals in Hong Kong would have to be given the same sentencing concessions as foreigners as he hit out at a higher court ruling giving foreigners lighter terms. Hearing a case involving two mainland burglars, Deputy Judge Wesley Wong Wing-fai said he was reluctantly bound to follow a decision by Mr Justice Brian Keith in the Court of Appeal, who cut three months off the jail term of a Swiss fraudster because of his foreignness. Mr Justice Keith took into account the hardships a foreigner would face concerning a different language, culture and diet. 'I hate people coming to our territory to commit crime but there is a Court of Appeal decision I am bound to follow. My conscience says that they [foreigners] should not be given preferential treatment,' Deputy Judge Wong said. He was presiding over the case of mainlanders Ng Kit, 24, and Chan Tat-wah, 32, both from Jiangsu province, who pleaded guilty last Tuesday to aggravated burglary and unlawfully remaining in Hong Kong. The pair sneaked into Hong Kong on May 4 and broke into a house in Tai Po on May 7 to steal food. Solicitor Wong Chi-leung, for Ng, said his client would suffer even more hardship than the Swiss fraudster in jail as 'gweilos' would receive more respect than mainlanders. Prosecutor Patrick Cheung Wai-sun submitted that leniency shown to foreigners should not be extended to mainlanders. 'The scenario here is very much different . . . there are many Chinese prisoners in prison but not many Swiss. All the authorities on the principle of foreignness concern nationals from foreign countries, not from the mainland,' he said. Mr Cheung said as there were more than 3,000 mainlanders serving time in Hong Kong jails, they would not be isolated. But Deputy Judge Wong said mainlanders would suffer the same dietary and dialect problems as foreign nationals. If the two groups were treated differently, 'we will be discriminating against our own nationals'. He noted two Court of First Instance judges had recently followed Mr Justice Keith's decision, adding: 'Unless Justice Keith's judgment was overturned by the Court of Final Appeal, we ought to follow.' On August 22, a day after Mr Justice Keith's ruling, Mr Recorder Ronny Wong Fook-hum, SC, in the Court of First Instance, took six months off the 16-year sentence of a Malaysian drug trafficker in recognition of his nationality and clear record. Deputy Judge Bernard Whaley cut three months from the jail terms of four South American robbers as he accepted they might have a tougher time in jail than a local person. Deputy Judge Wong adjourned sentencing of Ng and Chan until September 14.