Racing legend Kan given jail sentence, then freed

Joyce Man

Former champion horse trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee was jailed for more than three months yesterday for offering HK$130,000 to a village representative for his vote in a recent rural election.

But Kan, 74, was granted bail at Fanling Court to launch an appeal. He had been in custody since his conviction last month.

Kan was convicted after trial of one count of engaging in corrupt conduct at an election. He had pleaded not guilty.

Magistrate Eric Cheung Kwan-king sentenced him to three months and two weeks yesterday.

He said elections were an 'important foundation of social development', adding: 'It is the duty of the court to ensure they are clean, fair and have the confidence of the public.'

A Sheung Shui district village representative, Kan was a candidate for the Sheung Shui District Rural Committee executive committee.

The election was held on March 15 this year. Kan received 16 votes, losing to another candidate, Bowie Hau Chi-keung, who received 44.

Village representative Liu Fu-sau testified during the trial that Kan arrived at his convenience store one day and left him the money.

Passing sentence, the magistrate noted the circumstances of the case, Kan's contributions to society and advanced age, and that he was unlikely to reoffend.

Before the hearing yesterday, Kan's lawyer, Cheng Huan SC, submitted mitigation letters attesting to his good character, including ones from trainer Tony Cruz, singer Alan Tam Wing-lun, Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat and lawmaker Wong Yuk-man.

The letters, some of which were quoted in court, said Kan eagerly served villagers, raised money to build schools and contributed greatly to the racing world.

Cheng said the consequences of Kan's conviction would be 'tremendous' and that it could spell the loss of a reputation which he diligently had built up over many years.

The court was also told previously that Kan went to Britain in his 20s and worked in a restaurant, learning to train horses in his spare time.

He joined the Hong Kong Jockey Club when he returned in 1969 and went on to become champion trainer five times. He also trained five Hong Kong Derby winners.