Unpaid debt led to arson threats on brother's flat

A CREDITOR who threatened to set fire to a flat if he was not paid was yesterday convicted on two charges of blackmail, two of theft and one of criminal intimidation.

Ma Ming-kin, 35, a former taxi driver, now a warehouse worker and crane driver, was sentenced in the District Court to 18 months' jail, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to pay compensation of $16,500 to his victim, Yu Muk-chuen.

The court heard the victim's younger brother, Yu Muk-kwan, disappeared after borrowing money from Ma.

It was the Crown's case that Ma met Yu Muk-chuen at a minibus stand in Chuk Yuen South Estate in February last year and demanded $10,000 payment from him.

Ma threatened to set fire to the Ngau Tau Kok flat where the victim and his niece lived and to chop the girl to death unless Mr Yu located his brother, the court heard.


Terrified, Mr Yu paid the money. Five days later, Ma intercepted Mr Yu on his way to work and made similar threats. This time, Mr Yu handed over $6,500 and a $2,000 cheque. However, Ma never cashed it.

Two days later, Mr Yu reported the matter to the police who laid an ambush and arrested Ma.

Ma's counsel, Penelope Wacks, said her client had been under extreme financial stress as a result of making the loan.

''He is more sinned against than sinning,'' she said. Mr Yu Muk-chuen had been badly let down by a brother he had trusted.


In sentencing, Judge Kilgour accepted Ma had lent money to Mr Yu Muk-kwan although he was not sure about the amount.

He also accepted Mrs Wacks' submission that this was an exceptional case in which an immediate custodial sentence would do more harm than good.


He noted that Ma had an excellent probation report.