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Hong Kong courts

Violent robber ‘failed’ by Hong Kong health care system, judge says

Limbu Jun-kang, who attacked two victims and made off with HK$1,720, had underlying mental condition, court hears

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2018, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 August, 2018, 10:36pm

A 26-year-old man who bashed his victims before taking their money had been let down by the city’s public health care system, a Hong Kong judge said on Monday as he called for a report on his mental state and background before handing down a sentence.

High Court presiding deputy judge Andrew Bruce’s comments came after he heard the mitigation plea by Limbu Jun-kang, who had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery at Eastern Court.

The defence lawyer for Limbu – who originally went by the Chinese name Chan King-tung until he adopted a Nepalese name in 2016 as a sign of respect for a Nepalese neighbour who had been kind to him – explained how his client’s upbringing and a failure to diagnose his underlying condition might have resulted in his offences.

In the space of five days, Limbu grabbed and punched two victims before taking a total of HK$1,720 (US$220) from them in the Soho district of Central in November 2017. The accused also hit one of the men on the head with a glass bottle.

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Defence counsel Steven Kwan Man-wai said on Monday that the Form Two dropout had been a victim of bullying, robbery and, most recently, sexual assault, which led to a drastic change in his character.

Despite showing some hyperactivity since he was young, Kwan said, Limbu was not diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder – a condition that makes him easily lose his temper – until 2012, when he was sent to a reformatory centre for hitting his colleague in a McDonald’s outlet.

The judge said the case “cried out” for more in-depth investigation to understand the accused’s violent tendencies so that the court could take into account his mental illness before sentencing him.

Bruce said that while he had to look at the interest of the community, and the two victims, he also had to do justice to the accused.

“The system has failed him in a number of ways,” he said, referring the city’s public health care system, having heard about Limbu’s late diagnosis and scattered treatments.

The judge noted, however, that he was not making any criticism of the system as he appreciated how overstretched it could be.

Bruce sought several reports on Limbu’s mental state and background, and adjourned sentencing for a later day.

The defendant, who will remain in jail custody, listened to the interpreter patiently in the dock, in stark contrast to his last appearance at Eastern Court, when he had made a break for the metal fences that separated him from the rest of the courtroom.

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The High Court heard on Monday that Limbu made his first move on November 12 last year, when he pretended to be the friend of a drunk man and walked him into a Wellington Street back lane near Lan Kwai Fong.

There, he put his victim, Chan Chun-wa, in an armlock from behind, punching his face and kicking him. Limbu took HK$1,300 from his victim, who was in hospital for three days, the court heard.

Five days later, he launched a similar attack on Chan Chung-yin. After snatching HK$420 from the man, Limbu hit him on the head with a bottle before fleeing.

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Limbu was arrested on November 18, a day later, after police spotted him in Central. He made a confession while in police custody, the court heard.

During mitigation on Monday, his lawyer portrayed Limbu as a victim in his own right. Kwan said that when the defendant was young, he and his friends were robbed. Those friends then turned against him and harassed him, blaming him for not protecting them, Kwan said.

Limbu had since been practising Muay Thai, but was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance he met online in 2014.

“That led to a drastic change [in his characater],” Kwan said.