From the South China Morning Post this week in: 1976 After a four-day trial, two 19-year-old British soldiers were sentenced to death in the High Court by Mr Justice Yang for murdering a 54-year-old villager, Ng Fai, outside the Sek Kong [now Shek Kong] army camp. The court had heard that Gunner George William Puttock of the Royal Artillery and Trooper Donald David Bassett of the Royal Tank Regiment had attacked Ng, described as a wine brewer from Kam Tin, and Chung Ming-fat at around 5.30am on February 18. The court heard that 'Bassett had spent most of the night drinking with Puttock as they were celebrating Bassett's return to England the next day'. On their way back to camp 'the defendants accosted certain people', causing damage to a minibus and injuring another man, 'and beating the last man to come along - Ng - to death with wooden poles'. One witness said he had pleaded with the defendants to spare Ng's life, but that the two soldiers had ignored him and continued to beat Ng. 'One of Hong Kong's best known policemen' posted a bond of HK$300,000 so that he could visit 'several Southeast Asian cities next month'. The Independent Commission Against Corruption, which was investigating bribery charges against the officer, had applied to a magistrate to have his travel documents seized. However, 'informed of the special circumstances surrounding his forthcoming trip', the magistrate allowed the policeman - 'a well known sportsman' - to keep his travel documents. Michael Newell, the presiding magistrate at Western Court, remained in 'satisfactory condition' at Queen Mary Hospital's psychiatric unit. He had been admitted there 'after giving absolute discharges to 64 people who had pleaded guilty before him on the morning of July 7'. One man, Lau Tung-ching, 31, who had been discharged by Mr Newell 'after pleading guilty to handling 900 bottles of stolen brandy worth $43,092', had disappeared. Barry Sceats, the assistant to the attorney-general, responsible for filing the prosecution's appeals against Mr Newell's July 7 discharges, said that finding Lau might be difficult. This was because 'so much publicity had been given to the case and 'he [Lau] knows what we are doing'.' Later in the week it was reported that Mr Newell's case had 'brought into sharp focus the question of whether or not magistrates have been overloaded or overworked'. Lau's case was the only one of the cases dealt with by Mr Newell in which the Legal Department could file an appeal on the basis of the magistrate's 'manifestly inadequate sentences'. Of the 74 cases that Mr Newell had heard on July 7, 64 had been granted discharges and 10 given fines of HK$1. Several reports previewed the opening of Ocean Park, 'the largest of its kind in the world'. Ocean Park officials were reluctant to commit to an opening date, 'wisely as it turned out. For the park has suffered a number of mishaps during the construction period, such as a fire at the wave tank and an explosion through the headland site on Brick Hill which killed one man and injured two others'. A letter writer signing himself as G. Orwell and professing that Nineteen Eighty-Four was his favourite book, railed against 'conformism'. Incensed by a new law requiring motorcyclists to wear crash helmets, he listed other activities which, he predicted, would soon be proscribed for our own good. These included no boating without a life jacket, no swimming without water wings, no flying without a parachute and no sex without a blood test. The Securities Commission found that no offence had been committed under the provisions of the Securities Ordinance in the sale of a large amount of shares in Wheelock Marden, a real estate and electronics group and one of Hong Kong's oldest companies, shortly before it announced that it had run into problems and would slash its dividend. 'Financial observers expressed disappointment that the commission had not cleared the air on whether the sellers of the shares could in any way be described as 'insider traders'.' An item in last week's Slice of Life, reviewing July 10-17, 1981, incorrectly referred to New Zealand's prime minister Robert Muldoon as Brian Muldoon. The error was made in 2007, not 1981. Apologies.