Man denied bail after 11 years on the run

He fled his trial to the Philippines but has returned because his roots are here

A man who surrendered to police this month after jumping bail for more than a decade had his bail application refused by the District Court yesterday.

Lai Yiu-ling spent 11 years in the Philippines with his wife and two children running a small garment business but felt he had to return to Hong Kong and face the music, defence counsel Munira Moosdeen told the court.

He applied for bail but was refused and will be in custody until the trial in February.

Lai was on trial in 1993 on several charges, including handling stolen goods and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

But on the third day of the trial, he jumped bail and left for the Philippines.

There, he set up his clothing business and travelled to several countries, including the United States, for work.

'But eventually, it struck him that his roots are in Hong Kong and he must face the legal procedures of trial,' Ms Moosdeen told Judge Maggie Poon Man-kay in arguing for Lai's bail application.

She added that doctors had told his mother, who was nearly 90, she would die soon.

But Judge Poon decided that as Lai had absconded before, he was not entitled to bail now.

'Ms Moosdeen has said everything she could on your behalf, but I still do not consider that there are extenuating circumstances in this case,' she said.

Lai returned to Hong Kong with his wife and children on October 8 and surrendered to police at the airport, Ms Moosdeen said.

'Ignorance prevented him from telling authorities in the Philippines or Hong Kong of his intentions and he just came to Hong Kong airport and surrendered on his own,' she said.

'This is a redeeming show of sincerity and genuineness.'

Ms Moosdeen said Lai himself was willing to put up $40,000 in cash bail while his two sisters were ready to add $20,000 in total.

He was willing to surrender his British National (Overseas) passport, Philippines residency permit and Certificate of Clear Record issued in the Philippines.

'His wife and two kids are living with his mother and he will be living with them ... in Kwun Tong,' Ms Moosdeen said.

'He has a job available in Hong Kong offered by a friend selling mobile phones. He has been offered $15,000 per month.'

Ms Moosdeen said Lai was foolish to have run away in 1993, but now, with his children starting school in Hong Kong and having surrendered himself to the police, he was not likely to flee again.

But the government prosecutor objected, noting that Lai had two previous convictions.

Ms Moosdeen argued that those convictions were part of his life when he was in his late teens and early 20s and his circumstances had changed since then.

The trial was set for February 21 and is expected to last three days.