Nicholas Tse will not have to serve a single day of a prison sentence even if his community service order is overturned in a subsequent appeal, a criminal law expert predicted yesterday. Andrew Lam Ping-cheung, chairman of the Law Society's criminal law and procedure committee, said the government's decision to launch a time-consuming review before filing an appeal had given Tse a convenient escape route. 'The appeal process will take months. By that time, Tse would have served his 240 hours in community service,' Mr Lam said, adding that it was unlikely a judge would impose a second sentence if Tse had completed the first. 'Even if a prison sentence is passed as a result of the appeal, the judge will have to take into account the fact that Tse has already finished his community service and thus will have no choice but to let him go.' Calling the case a serious violation of the principle of parity, Mr Lam said the review ended up being nothing more than a show. 'It is obvious that Magistrate Allan Wyeth would insist that he was correct. I query why the government wasted more than a month on a review process.' A Department of Justice spokesman confirmed the possibility. 'If community service has already been carried out the judge will likely put a discount on the prison sentence,' Chief Information Officer Joe Cheung said. 'It is unlikely that someone would have to complete his prison sentence plus finish all the community service work.' Meanwhile, legislators and concern groups, disappointed with the verdict, hoped that Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie would appeal the decision. Vice-chairman of Education Convergence Ho Hon-kuen said: 'The whole thing has only worked to boost Mr Tse's popularity. 'It seems ironic that the person who benefited the most from the illegal act has received the softest sentence.' Mr Ho argued that if Tse is allowed to walk away with a light sentence young people will no longer be able to differentiate between right and wrong. Legislator Cheung Man-kwong said the Justice Department should consider an appeal if the central question of why a double standard had been applied to the two defendants was not answered. 'The fact that Magistrate Wyeth mentioned that Mr Tse should not be given a harsher sentence to prove stars do not receive special treatment already shows that bias exists,' said Mr Cheung. 'The status of Mr Tse was never mentioned by the Secretary for Justice. If Magistrate Wyeth referred to Tse's occupation during the verdict it proves that he, himself, has been considering it.' Tse's employer, the Emperor Entertainment Group, could not be reached for comment.