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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong policeman loses over HK$200,000 for stealing cup worth just HK$37

Shum Kim-wan is fined HK$2,500 and forced to forgo six months’ wages after court finds him guilty of supermarket theft

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 7:32am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 7:32am

A Hong Kong police officer was on Wednesday fined HK$2,500 (US$320) and forced to forgo HK$200,000 in salary after being found guilty of stealing from a supermarket a measuring cup worth just HK$37.

Shum Kim-wan, 55, had been deprived of six months’ wages because he was unable to complete a post-retirement service contract after the offence, his lawyers told West Kowloon Court.

The officer argued he had forgotten to pay for the cup because he faced a multitude of distractions, including his cat, a dead dog and a bowl of congee waiting for him at home.

Shum added that he had not even wanted the cup to start with.

But in response deputy magistrate Peter Yu Chun-cheung said he was “clearly not telling the truth”.

The magistrate rejected his evidence and said the defendant was neither credible nor reliable.

Defence counsel Stephanie Ko Cho-wing said in mitigation: “He knows he’s made a foolish mistake which he feels ashamed of and regrets. He also knows he brought shame on his colleagues.”

Shum, an owner of nine rescued cats and carer for more than 10 stray dogs, joined the police force in 1987 and retired last year.

He had been working as an officer on contract until his arrest outside Fusion supermarket in Discovery Bay on March 14 this year.

Security guard Cheung Hoi-yan testified to seeing Shum pocket a measuring cup and leaving via an exit where there was no cashier.

Shum had explained upon arrest: “The cat at home was feeling unwell after spaying surgery, so when I was thinking about the cat, I forgot to pay.”

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But at trial Shum gave nine reasons why he had forgotten the cup was in his coat pocket.

Besides the animals under his care, he had been thinking about feeling tired from the day’s work, had been under the influence of medication for a nasal allergy, and distracted by a WhatsApp message from his wife telling him to eat congee.

At issue was whether Shum had an intention to steal, which he denied.

However, the magistrate said Shum was “clearly making up factors to support his case”.

“I accept [Cheung’s] evidence as the truth,” Yu said. “I do not find the defendant credible or reliable.”

The magistrate said Shum must have felt the cup in the rear pocket of his coat, given it was a hard object of significant volume sandwiched between his bulky rucksack and body.

“The only irresistible inference is that the defendant intended to hide the cup … with the intent to steal,” the magistrate said.

Twenty-nine Hong Kong police officers were arrested last year, for various crimes.