Judge orders the jury to acquit the accused for lack of evidence A sergeant charged with the murder of a man he shot dead during an operation in Kowloon City was freed yesterday after a Court of First Instance judge directed the jury to acquit him. Mr Justice Thomas Gall ordered the jury to return a verdict of not guilty after hearing submissions last Friday that Detective Sergeant Choi Hok-yin, 42, had no case to answer over the death of Lam Cho-kin, 24, who died after being shot while in his van on Ma Tau Kok Road during an amber rainstorm warning on June 26, 2001. The court heard that Sergeant Choi, who has been a policeman for 21 years, approached Lam's light goods vehicle at a traffic light shortly after 10.30pm on the suspicion that the vehicle contained a cargo of stolen vehicle parts. Prosecutor Alain Shum told the court that Sergeant Choi had been charged for the shooting after he was unable to provide a reasonable excuse for discharging his weapon. During the Court of First Instance trial, Sergeant Choi's superior, Senior Inspector Yau Nai-keung, told the jury that $100,000 worth of stolen parts were found in the van. The jury also watched a video-taped re-enactment in which Sergeant Choi walked investigators through the incident. The officer claimed that when he walked in front of the van he believed Lam realised he was a police officer and reached for a weapon. Drawing his gun, Sergeant Choi pointed it at the van and demanded that Lam stop. However, the van sped towards him and clipped his shooting hand, causing the gun to go off. Evidence was also heard that Sergeant Choi had sustained an injury to the finger of the same hand during the incident. Yesterday, Mr Justice Gall said that on the basis of the evidence called and 'as a matter of law', the jury had no alternative but to return a not-guilty verdict. Sergeant Choi looked relieved after the decision, and he and his wife gratefully shook hands with his legal counsel, Gerard McCoy SC and Corinna Tai. Yesterday's directive followed a hearing last Friday - which was held without a jury - during which Mr McCoy called the prosecution's case 'absurdly weak'. 'With respect, the prosecution's case is utterly bereft of the issue,' he said. 'Where is the evidence of the intention to cause death or serious bodily harm?' Mr McCoy said the prosecution failed to take into account Sergeant Choi's explanation of what happened. 'Policing is always difficult, it can be dangerous, and it can be stressful,' he said. 'We seriously undervalue the difficulties that these people put themselves in to keep society intact.'' Prosecutor Alain Shum said he accepted there was no direct evidence as to how the shot was fired, but he asked Mr Justice Gall to infer that Sergeant Choi had intended to kill or seriously harm Lam. But the judge found there was not enough evidence: 'This is a classic situation where there can be suspicions and scenarios can be conceived, but is the intention to kill or cause serious bodily harm to the deceased the only proper inference to be drawn? It is not.' He also found that the alternative charge of manslaughter through gross negligence was not an option.