Three police veterans were jailed yesterday after a judge found them guilty of fabricating allegations against a disco manager to cover up an assault on him by one of the officers. District Court deputy judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on said it was a sad day for the police force, as three of its members with proven ability and dedication were convicted. He said that while he took no pleasure in sentencing the officers, the court must send a strong message to the public that police who committed such offences would be severely punished. 'Police officers are vested with power of arrest. But that does not give them licence to do whatever they want in exercising their duties,' he said. Senior Inspector Lee Chi-fai, 41, was jailed for 2.5 years after being convicted of perverting the course of justice and common assault. He denied both charges. Sergeants Wong Yu-lun, 45, and Au Yeung Yu, 52, were jailed for 18 months for perverting the course of justice. They were acquitted of aiding and abetting common assault. Both men denied all charges. The court heard that the three officers, stationed with the Yuen Long anti-triad unit at the time of the offence, went to the Catwalk Fantasies disco on January 12 last year, where they asked to see manager Tai Hiu-tung. Mr Tai, 32, told the court he was ordered to follow the three officers to a lane behind the disco, where Wong asked the whereabouts of an ex-employee. Mr Tai said Lee punched and kicked him when he failed to give a satisfactory answer. The court heard the officers filed false statements regarding the evening's events and Mr Tai was charged with obstructing them from carrying out their duties. The charge was dropped last February after Mr Tai lodged a complaint, supported by a security video of the incident, with the Complaints Against Police Office on January 17. During the trial, the defence challenged the authenticity of the tape, but Deputy Judge Kwok ruled it was genuine. Barrister James Chandler, for Lee, had said there was no evidence the three officers designed a plan to frame Mr Tai. But Deputy Judge Kwok said: 'The seriousness of this case arises from the fact that all defendants are serving police officers and the offence was committed when they were exercising their duties.' The officers were each given a sentence discount of six months for losing pensions ranging from $1 million to $3 million, for their fall from grace and their good characters during up to 33 years of service. Wong and Au Yeung received lighter terms because the deputy judge found they committed the offence out of 'misguided loyalty'.