I did wrong, says '80s gangster Yip Kai-foon

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 July, 2010, 12:00am

Yip Kai-foon (pictured), once Hong Kong's most wanted man and now serving a 36-year stint in Stanley Prison, has publicly expressed his remorse for his crimes for the first time in the latest issue of a Christian magazine.

In a hand-written five-page letter replying to questions sent to him by the monthly Angel's Heart magazine published by Christian media group Media Evangelism, Yip said: 'I definitely regret the wrong things I did in the past. My family experienced great trouble, and had to bear the burden and the worrying. Society was also hurt.'

The former gang boss also said: 'But luckily I didn't hurt any human lives. Over time, I hope the guilt in my heart will be washed away.' Yip gained notoriety for robbing jewellery stores in the 1980s and was sentenced to 16 years in jail in 1985 for firearms offences.

In 1989 he made a daring escape from Queen Mary Hospital, where he was receiving treatment. In several robberies in the 1990s, his gang sprayed bullets from AK-47s as they made their getaways.

He was rearrested in May 1996 after a shoot-out in Western, after sneaking back to Hong Kong, which he had left, on a vessel with firearms and explosives. He was shot in the spine during the gunbattle, leaving him wheelchair-bound.

Yip was sentenced to 30 years' jail in 1997 after he was convicted of possessing arms and ammunition, using a gun to resist arrest and possessing 1.8kg of explosives. That was added to the remainder of his previous 16-year term but was later reduced to 36 years and three months on appeal.

He became a Christian in March 2004 with the help of three pastors from the Hong Kong Christian Kun Sun Association, which was operating a prison ministry.

The gangster from Haifeng , Guangdong province, had said he had a wife and children on the mainland, but he reportedly remarried in prison in 2003.

In his letter to the magazine, Yip said 'everything was very hopeless' during his early years in prison, and he was 'spiritless' until 2000 when the three preachers came to see him in prison and 'his perspective on life has changed since'.

Six months was added to his jail term in January when he was convicted of assaulting a prison officer on April 30 last year. Eastern Court was told that he attacked the officer with a ballpoint pen in Stanley Prison as a wound on his backside was being cleaned. Yip was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He complained he had been badly treated by prison guards.