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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong police Christmas party slap leads to assault acquittal for superintendent

Martin Wong Kai-chung, 49, emerges all smiles from Kwun Tong Court after not guilty verdict in case involving alleged harassment of a female colleague

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 8:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 11:16pm

A senior Hong Kong policeman who slapped two colleagues after they allegedly tried to stop him from harassing a woman at a Christmas party was on Thursday found not guilty of assault.

Deputy magistrate Andrew Mok Tsz-chung said he suspected Inspector Yuki Yan Ho-yin was concealing her disgust for Superintendent Martin Wong Kai-chung, 49, as she recounted in court how he had placed his arm around her waist and touched her jacket.

Mok also concluded that Wong was neither credible nor reliable as a witness in explaining body contact with Senior Inspector Paddy Cheung Siu-long and Inspector Yvonne Cheng Yuen-man, who both claimed to have tried separating Wong from Yan.

But Wong was eventually cleared of two common assault charges against Cheung and Cheng, after the magistrate concluded the superintendent had no intent to assault the former, and questioned the latter’s reliability.

Wong emerged all smiles from Kwun Tong Court following his acquittal, but did not respond to questions.

The case centred on a Christmas party attended by police officers at the rank of inspector or above, at the Officers’ Mess in Kwun Tong on December 14, 2016.

The court heard Yan recall feeling awkward when a tipsy Wong placed his arm around her waist.

Beside them stood Cheng, who testified to seeing Yan turn teary when Wong released his grip on her waist, only to slap her twice on the back.

Cheung, who was watching from a distance, said he decided to stand between the two after seeing Wong raise his arm again as though he wanted to hit Yan another time.

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Cheung said Wong then slapped his back twice and he was left with a pricking pain.

Wong was also accused of hitting Cheng twice in the stomach, after she later pulled Yan away from the group.

Wong explained that he had slapped Cheung’s back to “say hello”, and said he bumped into Cheng by accident when he lost balance trying to congratulate her on winning a lucky draw prize.

Superintendent Gareth Jones, testifying for the defence, claimed to have witnessed Wong slapping Cheng’s back. He said it was inappropriate but suggested: “Move on, collect your prize.”

On Thursday, the magistrate said touching a woman’s waist would understandably cause displeasure or discomfort, given the sensitivity of the body part.

“The court suspects Inspector Yan concealed her disgust over the defendant’s conduct when she testified,” he said.

But Mok could not be sure if the slap on Cheung’s back was related to his attempt to stop the alleged harassment.

The magistrate acknowledged Cheung had stood by his police statement, which said he believed in retrospect that Wong’s assault was not intentional as he might have been displaying excessive body language under the influence of alcohol and the festivities.

Mok gave the superintendent the benefit of the doubt after concluding prosecutors had failed to eliminate the possibility of Wong falsely believing Cheung would consent to the slap.

As for the alleged assault on Cheng, Mok noted that Chief Superintendent Barry John Smith, who was giving out the lucky draw prize, had not seen Wong hit her stomach.

“Cheng was surprisingly evasive on how long her pain lasted,” Mok said. “That affected the reliability of her evidence.”

Wong joined the force in 1994. The officer, who is of clear record, is the father of two children, aged nine and five.