A man who took part in the kidnapping for cash of five female illegal immigrants almost 13 years ago was jailed yesterday after handing himself in as a 'changed man''. Lai Woon-ping, 43, pleaded guilty in the Court of First Instance to forcible detention with intent to procure a ransom and was sentenced to five years and four months in jail. The court heard that on August 26, 1998, several men intercepted the illegal immigrants and their smuggler as they travelled in a taxi. They had just landed in Lei Yue Mun by boat from Shanwei . The group then demanded HK$10,000 ransom from one of the women's relatives, the court heard. Lai, who did not take part in the intercept, was called by the men to help in collecting the ransom after the women were taken to a stone hut in On Lei Village, Lei Yue Mun. Two of Lai's co-accused were earlier jailed for eight years and 51/2 years. A third co-accused absconded and is still at large. While on bail, Lai fled to the mainland, where he started a family. His counsel, Michael Delaney, told the court Lai decided to surrender last June because it was in the best interests of his children, aged two and eight. Also, his father died in 2009 and he wanted to take care of his mother in Hong Kong. Lai, who was then 30, absconded because he was running away from loan sharks, Delaney said. He was now a 'changed man' and showed genuine remorse. The court heard Lai's co-accused asked the women to disclose phone numbers of relatives in Hong Kong. One, Hui Siu-ching, gave the number of her uncle Hui Pang. A HK$10,000 ransom was then demanded from Hui Pang, who was told his niece would be sold into prostitution if he did not pay. But the uncle said that he did not have any money and the men demanded a ransom from Hui Siu-ching's cousin, Chan Siu-hong. Chan promised to bring the cash but called police. Lai and his co-accused were arrested at the scene.