20 years for 'cog' in drug wheel

A CHINESE seaman who was caught delivering 2.5 kilograms of heroin to a Hong Kong buyer was yesterday sentenced to 20 years' jail by the High Court.

Handing down the penalty on a weeping Lam Hon-por, Deputy Judge Beeson pointed out that the maximum sentence for the offence was life imprisonment.

The judge said that while accepting that Lam only acted as a courier and that there was no evidence to show that he had made a large profit, the amount of drug was substantial and the trade could not exist without a simple cog in the wheel.

Lam, 43, had denied a charge of trafficking in a dangerous drug but was found guilty after trial by a jury.

A second defendant, Hui Lam-chuen, had earlier pleaded guilty to the offence and had been jailed for 16 years in February.

During Lam's trial, the court heard evidence called by prosecutor Andrew Allman-Brown that Customs officers on surveillance duty saw Lam coming ashore from a Chinese vessel at about 7.30 pm on October 22.

He was seen approaching a car parked near the Kwun Tong Cargo Handling Basin and handed over a bag to the driver, Hui, before returning.

The vehicle was later intercepted and the bag was found to contain 2,517 grams of heroin.

In his defence, Lam maintained that he was not the man seen by the Customs officers, claiming that it was a case of mistaken identity.

His counsel, Warwick Haldane, in mitigation, said his client was only a small cog in the organisation and was nothing more than a courier.