A Hong Kong private tutor has been jailed for 27 years for orchestrating a failed plot to murder his business partner more than three years ago, with the sentencing judge calling him “a major threat to society”. Stephen So Hon-to returned to the High Court on Thursday to be sanctioned over what the judge called a “heinous crime” in which he remotely planned the intended killing between late 2018 and early 2019. He was in de facto control of three pistols, an assault rifle and 500 live rounds. The court heard the 31-year-old had enlisted two men to “assassinate” former flight attendant Terence Lam Ching-fung. One of the men was allegedly David Su, 21, while the other remains unidentified. He had also ordered his former lover Chak Wing-sze, who was 17 at the time, to hide the firearms and ammunition to avoid arrest. A seven-member jury on Monday found So guilty of conspiracies to murder and possess firearms and ammunition without a licence, after Chak testified against him in a five-week trial. His co-defendant, Su, was cleared of both charges. Hong Kong woman jailed for 6½ years over case linked to failed murder plot Chak, now 21, testified in the trial that she had fallen in love with So and agreed to become his lover in early 2018, after they met on a political forum on Facebook two years earlier. Meanwhile, So was looking for opportunities to kill Lam, whom he called by the nickname “hobbit”, after their relationship turned sour over a disagreement relating to an investment in a tactical gear company in China. The tutor had also accused Lam of secretly reporting to police that he had smuggled firearms, saying that he had noticed what appeared to be plain-clothes officers wandering near his residence in Tai Po. He instructed Chak to follow Lam and uncover his home address. He also left the guns and bullets in Chak’s care before putting his plan into action. The first attempt to kill Lam on December 6, 2018, ended in failure, after Chak forgot to prepare a mobile phone for her accomplice to be used to lure Lam into an abandoned school in Tai Wo Hau where he would be shot. So had distanced himself from the planned murder that night, giving instructions remotely while enjoying a fondue dinner with another woman whom he described as his girlfriend. Ahead of a second attempt to kill Lam in 2019, So took Chak to two abandoned village schools in Tai Po to test the firearms, and told her to buy explosive substances in case they decided to kill Lam with handmade bombs. Hong Kong woman jailed for 6½ years over case linked to failed murder plot Police arrested So on New Year’s Eve at the Hong Kong airport, just as he was about to depart for Japan with his girlfriend. Officers also seized three pistols and a total of 948 live rounds from numerous residential flats in subsequent operations, of which the handguns and 500 bullets were linked to the murder plot. The rifle, however, was never recovered. In Thursday’s mitigation, defence counsel David Boyton submitted his client would assume full responsibility for his actions and was willing to “make a change”. “He was sorry to his family. He let them down,” the lawyer added. But Madam Justice Susana D’Almada Remedios found the defendant displayed no remorse at all, noting that he had maintained the firearms in his possessions were toy guns. While passing the sentence, the judge said the facts and circumstances of the case were “extremely grave”, noting that So had taken advantage of Chak’s admiration for him to make the teenager “run around and do all his dirty work”. Ex-RTHK reporter cleared of imitation firearms charge in Hong Kong “[The defendant] played a major role in this agreement. He was the planner and he was instrumental in this conspiracy to murder,” the judge said. “He had used … two males far younger than him, and Chak, [who] was 10 years his junior. He preyed on Chak’s naivety, young age and immaturity. They were his foot soldiers but he was the commander.” “I consider him to be a major threat to society. I consider that only a lengthy sentence should be imposed.” At the trial in January, So revealed that he was a friend of localist icons Edward Leung Tin-kei and Andy Chan Ho-tin, and had previously supplied protective equipment to protesters during the social unrest in 2019. The judge stressed that she had completely disregarded the defendant’s political stance and affiliation with the pair as they had no bearing on her decision. Chak, who was granted immunity from the two conspiracy charges, was on Wednesday jailed for 6½ years for unlicensed possession of firearms and ammunition. Lam was jailed for four years last October for keeping three rifles, a handgun, a stun gun and 101 cartridges in January 2019.