A businessman who turned to robbery after suffering a mental breakdown was given a lenient jail term of 18 months, with three months of psychiatric treatment, when he appeared before the Court of First Instance yesterday. Chung Pak-ming, 44, earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted robbery. The incident took place in Sha Tin on May 24 last year when Chung tried to grab a woman's handbag. Chung then tried to cover her mouth with a towel soaked in chemicals related to chloroform but fled when the victim screamed. Two months later, Chung surrendered to police and confessed as he wanted to be jailed to escape creditors. Mr Justice Colin Jackson said yesterday he faced a 'particularly difficult' sentencing due to Chung's background. According to psychiatric reports, Chung suffered a mental breakdown after being struck by several misfortunes in recent years. The court heard that his wife twice tried to commit suicide after suffering from post-natal depression. Their first child also suffered from a congenital lung problem. The court heard Chung later incurred huge debts and lost his signboard business because he spent too much time taking care of his wife and son. Three months before the offence, Chung was admitted to the Prince of Wales Hospital for psychiatric treatment. Mr Justice Jackson recommended further psychiatric help, to be received concurrently with Chung's 18-month sentence, and close supervision. The judge said he would have jailed Chung for three years if not for his background and mental condition.