A POLICEMAN found guilty of stealing a pearl necklace while investigating a burglary was wrongly convicted, a High Court judge ruled. While quashing the conviction of Detective Constable Ng Yau-chuen and setting aside his six-month jail sentence, Mr Justice Ryan, however, ordered a retrial. Ng, 54, a policeman for 24 years who was due to retire next year, had denied theft but was found guilty after trial by Magistrate Henry Brazier. The court heard that Wong Chuen-han and her husband discovered their Tsuen Wan flat had been burgled on December 15 last year. They called the police, and Ng was one of the officers who came to investigate. Ms Wong said she and Ng entered the bedroom where her jewellery, including the necklace, was scattered on the bed. A fingerprint officer took some prints then left with Ms Wong. A short while later Ms Wong noticed the necklace was missing. During a search Ng allegedly came out of the toilet but then returned to it. Ms Wong became suspicious and told Inspector Lee Fuk-wah, who then knocked on the toilet door. He heard the toilet flush before Ng emerged. The necklace was found in the toilet bowl. Ng's counsel, Peter Nguyen, on appeal, submitted the whole case against his client was circumstantial. It was clear from the evidence that apart from Ng, there were at least three other uniformed policemen and a fingerprint officer in the flat when the necklace went missing. Under the circumstances, he said, the Crown should seek to prove its case by calling all the other officers to give evidence. However, none were called. Mr Nguyen also opposed a retrial, contending that all that could be proved was that Ng's conduct was suspicious. Senior Crown Counsel Fanny Wong, however, submitted that a retrial was warranted in the interest of justice because the case involved a serious allegation of a breach of trust. Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Ryan noted that the magistrate had found overwhelming inference could be drawn that Ng had taken the necklace. However, he said, the magistrate found that it was probable, but not proved beyond reasonable doubt, that apart from the husband, no one had used the toilet before the uniformed police arrived and that only the fingerprint officer and Ng had been in the bedroom before the necklace went missing. The judge said it was well established that primary facts had to be found beyond reasonable doubt against a defendant before inference could be drawn. He said the two issues referred to by the magistrate were central to the prosecution's case and he was wrong to rely on these facts to draw inference of guilt, the judge said.