A couple who said they forged evidence of their income to get a mortgage because they wanted to move closer to their daughter's school were spared a jail sentence yesterday. Decorator Chan Cheuk-hung, 35, was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and his wife, Chong Wai-ho, 34, 80 hours. They had pleaded guilty in the District Court on December 18 to procuring an entry in the record of a bank by deception. In sentencing the couple, Judge Peter Line said the circumstances leading to the offence were unusual and a custodial sentence was not called for. 'Back in 1997, the atmosphere in Hong Kong was optimistic and everyone wanted to buy a flat . . . although they had enough money to repay a mortgage loan, what they lacked was proof of income as [Chan] was a self-employed decoration worker,' he said. The court earlier heard that the couple, who were living in public housing, had applied for a home loan from the Housing Authority in February 1997, and the sum of $600,000 was granted on condition they complete the purchase by August that year. Chan and Chong entered an agreement to buy a flat in Ngau Tau Kok, Kowloon, for $1.92 million. They also borrowed $1.17 million from HSBC. In order to obtain the top-up loan from the bank, the couple submitted proof-of-income documents claiming Chan was an assistant manager for a trading company and Chong a sales manager for a travel company. The documents said they earned $17,000 and $15,000 a month respectively. The companies did not exist. The court heard that the accused's eldest daughter started at a primary school in Yau Tong, Kowloon, in 1997, and they wanted to move in order to live closer to the school. Judge Line said the couple had been able to repay the loan on time until two months ago, when Chan's business slumped. He accepted the couple did not intend to cause any loss to the bank. 'This is an economic crime without the intent to cause economic harm,' the judge said. Chan also was fined $1,000 for possessing a dangerous drug, a charge to which he pleaded guilty. When he was arrested on October 12 last year, about 15 grams of cannabis was found at the family home.