A magistrate yesterday revised his own sentence of a couple convicted of cheating a government agency out of $223,273 in student aid, from 240 hours of community service to 11 months' immediate imprisonment. Earlier this year, Pang Foun-hing, 53, and his wife, Wong Sau-kuk, 48, admitted defrauding the Student Financial Assistance Agency by concealing their assets, including an annual income of about $60,000 and the ownership of five Shamshuipo properties that earned about $400,000 a year. The court previously heard that the agency had received two applications from the defendants' son, Pang Yun-sui, and three from their daughter, Pang Kit-fong, between 2001 and 2004, for a total of $223,273. The agency later confirmed that the applicants would not be entitled to the allowance since their family income exceeded the limit for applicants. Pang and Wong, who pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud before Principal Magistrate Garry Tallentire in March, were sentenced a month later to 240 hours of community service. Yesterday, the magistrate said it was not easy to determine the sentence in such cases. But he noted the prosecutor's view that although such fraud cases were common, they were serious and the community service order could not adequately reflect this. After referring to a Court of Appeal judgment in 2002 in which a sentence of two-and-a-half years' imprisonment was imposed, the magistrate agreed with the prosecutor to revise Pang's and Wong's sentences from community service orders to imprisonment. As the defendants had been co-operative and repaid the full $223,273 before their arrest in March, the magistrate adopted a starting point of 18 months' imprisonment. This was further reduced to 11 months in view of the one-month delay for the review and the fact that they had pleaded guilty. The agency - which discovered the fraud during a random check last year - welcomed the revised sentence. It said heavier penalties allowed the convicted party to receive proper legal punishment and acted as a deterrent. It reminded applicants for student aid to report their assets honestly. In another case, the Department of Justice has applied for a second review of the suspended jail term given to tsunami survivor Leung Wai-kei, who was convicted of welfare fraud. The first application for a review was rejected last month by Tuen Mun Deputy Magistrate Raymond Wong Kwok-fai.