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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong police officer admits taking upskirt photos and videos – including 12 of his colleague inside the station

Investigators found 1,628 photos and 290 videos of different women on Chu Ho-lap’s smartphone

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 6:36pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 August, 2018, 4:58pm

A Hong Kong police officer on Monday admitted taking upskirt images on 311 occasions, including a dozen of his colleague inside Yau Ma Tei police station.

Investigators found 1,628 photos and 290 videos of different women on Chu Ho-lap’s smartphone and West Kowloon Court heard the stash included 12 of his colleague, taken while Chu was on duty on October 16 last year. The photos were taken over a total of three months.

Chu, 27, was arrested the following day after two plain clothes officers found him taking upskirt pictures of a woman at Mong Kok MTR station. His phone has since been confiscated.

On Monday, Chu pleaded guilty to one count of committing an act outraging public decency and 19 others of access to a computer with dishonest intent, an offence punishable by five years’ imprisonment.

But Chu’s defence counsel Van Ma argued for unpaid community service.

Ma said Chu was different from a mentally sound officer who knowingly broke the law because serious depression – diagnosed after the offence – impaired his self control and led to out of character conduct.

The court heard Chu’s alleged troubles began in April last year when his father’s engineering company plunged into financial difficulties, which prompted debt collectors to visit the family.

The situation reportedly worsened in June when one of the debtors revealed Chu’s father had fathered a son from an extramarital affair.

Ma said Chu had to use his HK$150,000 (US$19,000) savings to help ease the family’s financial stress, which he had to keep under wraps given the sensitive nature of his job. But that meant he had to shelve plans to marry his girlfriend, which led to arguments.

Meanwhile, at work, Ma said Chu felt frustrated because he had been repeatedly assigned to clerical work when he longed to work on the front line.

In January, psychiatrist Dr Ting Sik-chuen diagnosed Chu with symptoms of depression that emerged in June last year and prescribed a large dosage of antidepressants.

He faces dismissal … that is already a serious punishment for a man who wanted to serve as a frontline officer
Van Ma, defence counsel

His diagnosis was supported by clinical psychologist Dr Jo Lui Ka-kei, also approached by the defence, who found Chu was suffering from a major depressive disorder partly caused by genetics as his sister was also diagnosed with an emotional disorder.

Ma argued Chu had been unaware of how the series of “unfortunate incidents” in his life had impaired his control over impulsivity.

“He felt ashamed after the arrest and very remorseful,” she said in mitigation. “The defendant wishes to sincerely apologise to the women affected.”

Chu joined the force in May 2014. He was suspended from duty after his arrest.

“He faces dismissal,” Ma continued. “That is already a serious punishment for a man who wanted to serve as a frontline officer.”

But deputy magistrate Lau Suk-han replied the offence was very serious.

“The court does not believe community service is suitable,” she said.

Sentencing was adjourned to August 13, pending background reports.