A YOUTH almost had his hand hacked off when rivalry over a girl erupted into violence, the District Court heard yesterday. Lam Kwai-yuen, 18, gathered a gang armed with knives, water pipes and a baseball bat and set out on a revenge attack after being taunted by his rival, Judge Jackson said. In the early hours of October 20 last year, Lam's gang came across his rival, Fung Chun-kit, sitting in a car with friends in Po Tung Road, Sai Kung. The judge said that Lam, Chung Kim-hung, 18, and Chiu Ka-kei, 22, leaned inside the vehicle and slashed at their victims with knives. ''This was a most disgusting, violent episode,'' he said. ''I find it difficult to imagine a more cowardly, dangerous and vicious thing to do. The consequences could have been fatal.'' Lau Hing-hung almost had his hand chopped off, Liu Wai-kwang suffered multiple chop wounds, while Wong Chi-hong and Fung were also injured. ''One victim told how his wrist was almost chopped off, one of them had blood all over his body, part of another's flesh had been sliced off and had fallen to the ground,'' the judge said. He said it was difficult to imagine a worse case of section 17 wounding, which carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Lam and Chung were sentenced to 41/2 years' jail. Chiu was jailed for five years. They were found guilty of wounding, causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage. Three others, Liu Ka-lok, 17, Shek Kwok-yin, 19, and Leung Kwai-fai, 16, were sent to a detention centre after being convicted of causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage.