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Crime

Man held over HK$5.4 million theft identified as ringleader of notorious armed robbery gang released from Hong Kong jail 4 years ago

Ho Tung-shing, 60, received 17 life sentences for masterminding a series of violent robberies about three decades ago but was released from prison in 2014

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 2:42pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 11:50pm

A 60-year-old suspect arrested on Monday over a brazen jewellery store heist last week in Tsim Sha Tsui was identified as the mastermind of a series of violent robberies three decades ago who was given 17 life sentences for that crime spree.

Ho Tung-shing, whose gang took off with more than HK$124 million in 16 robberies between 1986 and 1991, was released from jail in 2014, according to sources.

He was arrested in connection with last Wednesday’s HK$5.4 million robbery at the Ocean Centre shopping mall after police checked security camera footage in more than 20 buildings in Bowring Street, Yau Ma Tei, where he was last seen. Officers caught him on the stairs of a Waterloo Road building in the same district.

“The six stolen items, including a HK$1.7 million 10-carat diamond, were recovered in a shoulder bag he was carrying at the time of the arrest,” one police source said.

Ho was 37 years old when he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court in 1993. He had admitted a total of 23 charges including 16 robberies, three attempted robberies, shooting with intent to resist arrest, and possession of arms and ammunition without a licence.

During the hold-ups, a man was shot dead and another was paralysed after his spinal cord was shattered by a bullet.

Gone in 27 seconds … video shows thieves snatching HK$5 million in jewellery

Ho denied murder and was found guilty of manslaughter by a High Court jury. He was given 17 life terms for 15 of the robberies and the shooting offences, and was jailed for a total of 25 years for the other charges.

Ho was then given a minimum of 20 years behind bars in 2004 after the law was revised to allow prisoners without a definite term or discretionary life imprisonment to get a minimum sentence.

Investigators on Tuesday escorted Ho back to the Ocean Centre branch of Prince Jewellery and Watch to reconstruct the crime.

His arrest followed that of a 55-year-old man outside a Parkes Street building in Yau Ma Tei at about 12.30am on Sunday. The second suspect was identified as Ho’s younger brother.

Security camera footage showed that two robbers wearing masks and caps took 27 seconds to break open a display window and snatch the valuables at about 7.30pm last Wednesday.

They walked straight to the window next to the entrance before one attempted to open it with an unidentified object. The second robber wielded a knife and threatened customers and staff.

The footage showed the first robber grabbing the valuables, including two necklaces, two diamond rings, a bangle and the 10-carat diamond, which he stuffed into a bag.

Gang snatches HK$32 million in street ambush on money exchange staff

The other man looked on before pulling out a knife. Witnesses said he warned people not to move. The pair fled before police arrived.

It was the third high-profile robbery in Tsim Sha Tsui within 14 months.

In September, three robbers escaped on a motorbike with HK$24 million worth of jewellery after smashing a display window with hammers at the Tsim Sha Tsui branch of the Chow Sang Sang jewellery chain on Canton Road.

And last March, a masked robber took just seven seconds to smash a display window with a hammer and make off with a diamond ring worth HK$5.26 million from the Tsim Sha Tsui branch of 3D-Gold on Nathan Road.