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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong secondary student was caught with airgun at Legco rally, court hears

Court rules that 16-year-old, who was carrying the weapon and 1,000 plastic pellets by police on day of protest last year, has a case to answer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2018, 7:39pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 August, 2018, 10:36pm

A Hong Kong secondary school student found carrying an air pistol metres away from a protest against changing the Legislative Council’s rule book last December had a case to answer, a court ruled.

The Eastern Court heard Lau Hong, 16, was found in possession of an eight-inch air pistol, with a loaded magazine, a bottle of 1,000 yellow plastic pellets and five “Hong Kong is not China” stickers when he was intercepted by police in Admiralty on December 12 last year.

Some 50 metres away was a protest staged by the pan-democrats against an ongoing Legco debate to change its rules of procedure that would curb filibustering practices.

When asked why he was carrying those items, the boy reportedly told an officer: “I’m going to take pictures at the Legislative Council. I like to carry the gun with me, am I not allowed to?”

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Magistrate Veronica Heung Shuk-han was told that Lau was not licensed under the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance to carry the air pistol.

The student will testify on Tuesday in defence to one count of possession of an imitation firearm, which he has denied.

The offence is punishable by two years’ imprisonment.

On the first day of trial, police constable So Tsz-hang testified that he intercepted Lau at the junction of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road at 7.52pm when he saw a hooded boy clutching a cross-body bag with “a look of panic”.

So said Lau permitted officers to conduct a bag search, but that his attitude turned uncooperative when passers-by gathered around to watch.

“He could not explain why he was carrying the air pistol,” So said. “Out of concern for public safety, I arrested him.”

But So’s superior, Inspector Alex Wai-kam-kwong, agreed to the defence suggestion that Lau was “not entirely uncooperative”.

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Chief Inspector Louise Ng Wing-yin, who examined the firearm in question, said the object was a spring-powered air gun capable of firing pellets of 6mm in diameter.

“This type [of air pistol] is commonly found on the market, one can buy it from a toy shop,” she said.

When defence counsel Poon Siu-bunn then asked if the air pistol could be considered a toy, Ng replied: “It depends on how you define a toy, it’s hard to say.”

Other items found in Lau’s bag include two face masks, a pair of scissors, a roll of plastic tape and an umbrella.

Lau has a clear criminal record.