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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong student tried to have sex with 12-year-old girl, pleads guilty to indecent assault

  • Court hears how then 16-year-old boy took off all girl’s clothes in a classroom but fled when he heard a janitor
PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 8:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 11:00pm

A Hong Kong student who thought it was “within the law to make out” with a 12-year-old has pleaded guilty in court to indecent assault.

The District Court heard the 19-year-old University of Hong Kong student, referred to only by his initials, W.Q., admitted he attempted to have sex with the girl inside a classroom at their secondary school in May 2015, when he was 16 years old.

He also admitted to squeezing her 18-year-old sister’s bottom while they were walking along a school corridor in September 2016.

“You need to exercise more,” he told the sister.

The 12-year-old later reported the assault she had suffered to police on W.Q.’s 18th birthday in April last year.

In mitigation, counsel Olivia Tsang argued W.Q. had a complicated relationship with the 12-year-old, as she had been sending him photos, flirtatious messages and details of her intimate relationship with her then boyfriend.

“He falsely believed it was legal to make out with an underage girl,” Tsang said. “It wasn’t right since he was older than her by a few years, but he was still only 16.”

The counsel also claimed her client shared a brief but intimate relationship with the 18-year-old sister during a study tour before the assault in the corridor, which had led W.Q. to believe he could touch her in that way.

W.Q. pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of indecent assault, an offence punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment.

Two other similar charges and one alternative charge of attempting to have unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13 years were left on court file.

Sentencing was adjourned to January 18, pending reports on the suitability of probation and community service.

But deputy district judge Li Chi-ho warned: “All sentencing options will be considered.”

Prosecutors said W.Q. had no prior convictions. He was portrayed by his counsel as a school house captain with a sunny disposition and a fan following.

But his social circle was purportedly restricted after his parents grounded him for a fight with a classmate at the end of 2014.

W.Q. then turned to the internet, where he met the 12-year-old girl on Facebook following a friend’s introduction.

Tsang said the pair would exchange details of their romantic lives and the girl would express her jealousy when W.Q. talked about the other girls.

On May 21, 2015, the day before the alleged assault, the girl told W.Q. she was upset because her boyfriend had been seeing other girls.

The exchange was said to have prompted W.Q. to ask if he could “make out” with her, on the condition that they act “within the law”.

When the pair met in a classroom after school, they hugged and W.Q. attempted further advances after he took off all her clothes, but the girl eventually rejected him.

The court heard W.Q. then fled the room when he heard there was a janitor next door, leaving the girl to dress on her own.

Seven months later, he travelled to Thailand with the girl’s sister, and after they returned to Hong Kong he assaulted her in the school corridor.

W.Q. was then made to sign a “behaviour contract” after the elder sister reported her case to the school.

His psychologist said the assaults were not motivated by any mental or psychological problems and found W.Q. had a low chance of reoffending.