Judge cites hazards created by defendants but notes there was no financial gain Two men convicted of defrauding the Housing Authority over substandard piling at a Tin Shui Wai Home Ownership Scheme development were each jailed for seven years in the Court of First Instance yesterday. Wong Shun-wah, 39, a quality-control engineer employed by B+B Construction, and To Man-kum, 34, an assistant works clerk employed by Hsin Yieh Architects and Associates, had each been found guilty by a High Court jury of conspiracy to defraud between October 1996 and February 1997. It was the prosecution's case that the concrete pile foundations of two buildings at Tin Chung Court, Tin Shui Wai, were shorter than they should have been. In the summer of 1999, it was discovered that lifts could not be installed in the two buildings because they were tilting due to settlement of the foundations, the court heard. The two defendants were found to have conspired to defraud the Housing Authority and its contract manager and project supervisor, Hsin Yieh Architects and Associates, by making a false representation in a registered structural engineering report - dated July 7, 1997 - stating that the lengths of the piles reached the depths required in the contract. Government lawyer Ian McWalters told the court that almost $250 million had been spent on remedial works and restoration of the buildings. Mr Justice Pang Kin-kee said the two defendants had failed in their duties to supervise the works and ensure construction was in accordance with design specifications. In sentencing, the judge said the case involved a major public-safety issue, creating grave hazards. The collapse of one of the buildings would inevitably have caused a loss of life, he added. 'I take note of the fact that there was no evidence either of you had received financial gain in the criminal undertaking,' Mr Justice Pang said. The judge adopted a starting point of eight years and discounted it by one year, taking into account the defendants' previous clear record and the fact they were not senior managers in the conspiracy. Defence barristers Edward McGuinniety and Albert Luk submitted that the two defendants did not instigate the scam, and said it was very unlikely they would re-offend. The other five defendants in the trial were all acquitted after a hearing that lasted more than 80 days. The Tin Shui Wai residential development comprised six blocks and two schools. In September 1996, the foundation contract of the project was awarded to Franki Contractors - which later changed its name to B+B Construction, the court heard.