Senior Hong Kong policeman accused of assaulting colleagues at Christmas party says ‘passionate’ antics caused misunderstanding
Superintendent accused of attacks on officers who tried to stop him harassing female inspector at Christmas party
A police superintendent on trial for common assault of his colleagues admitted in court on Friday that he felt bad and embarrassed by what he called his passionate conduct, which caused misunderstandings and a prosecution against him.
Martin Wong Kai-chung, 49, told Kwun Tong Court he patted his colleagues in a “rather passionate display” of friendliness and accidentally bumped into a female inspector when he lost balance after a few drinks at a senior officers’ Christmas party in 2016.
His alleged victims – Senior Inspector Paddy Cheung Siu-long and Inspector Yvonne Cheng Yuen-man – had accused the superintendent of assaulting them after they tried to stop him harassing Inspector Yuki Yan Ho-yin.
But Superintendent Gareth Jones, who claimed to have witnessed Wong slapping Cheng’s back while she was on her way to collect a lucky draw prize, said the slap suggested: “Move on, collect your prize”.
“I did not think it was appropriate for a superintendent to do that to an inspector, particularly a woman inspector,” he testified for the defence. “But it remains my perception that it was boisterous behaviour. It was over-exuberant, keeping in tone with the mood of the party.”
Defence counsel Osmond Lam asked: “Did it occur to you that you had just witnessed a crime?”
“No. No sir,” Jones replied.
His superior, then chief superintendent Barry John Smith, said Wong was “clearly drunk” at the time, as he was having problems with his balance and bumping into people.
“I personally asked the defendant to leave,” the defence witness testified.
Smith said Wong’s personal conduct was “always exemplary up until the incident in question”. He described the superintendent as “very friendly” as well as “very hard-working, very professional and very knowledgeable”.
Wong had pleaded not guilty to two counts of common assault.
The court heard the father of two had never been subject to any disciplinary inquiries since he joined the Hong Kong Police Force in 1994.
Taking the stand on Friday, Wong said he patted Yan twice on the back – near her shoulders – because he wanted to show his appreciation for her support for the police district, as shown by her attendance at the party despite having to go on duty afterwards.
Wong also said he considered Cheung an outstanding inspector who had a lot of potential, so he was happy to see him join his group that night and patted his back to “say hello”.
As for the alleged attack on Cheng, Wong said he had wanted to shake her hand and congratulate her for winning the prize that everybody wanted, but that he had lost his balance and bumped into her.
“I had no reason to assault her in front of so many people,” he added.
When Lam asked how he felt about – as he saw it – being misunderstood and prosecuted, Wong replied: “I felt rather embarrassed and bad about it.”
Deputy Magistrate Andrew Mok Tsz-chung will deliver his verdict on September 6.