Two men who launched a "cold-blooded" knife attack on a veteran Hong Kong journalist were jailed for 19 years at the High Court yesterday - though the reason for the vicious assault remained a mystery. Yip Kim-wah and Wong Chi-wah, both 39, were convicted by a jury of one count each of causing grievous bodily harm to former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to, 50, in February last year. They were also found guilty of one count of stealing a motorcycle that was used in the case. Yip was convicted as well on a count of theft for stealing a vehicle licence. "This is an abrasive attack on the rule of law in Hong Kong," Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping said. Toh said the pair claimed to have been offered HK$100,000 each to "teach Lau a lesson" but refused to reveal who hired them. No evidence suggested it was related to the journalist's work, she noted, but she recalled Lau had testified that he had no financial or personal dispute with anyone. "It is lucky for Hong Kong people to have freedom of the press," she said. "Members of the press, like everyone else, should be protected by the law without fear in their daily business." The judge said the attack plan was sophisticated and carried out only for the sake of a monetary reward. Wong told police he was afraid Lau's blood had splashed on his shoes so he bought a new pair right after the attack. The two men were seen shopping in a mall, where Wong bought a pair of new shoes that cost more than HK$1,000. "It was a totally serious, senseless and brutal attack," she said. "They were cold-blooded as they went shopping for shoes after the attack and they were smiling and relaxed when they left the shopping mall." Toh said a deterrent sentence was necessary to stop people from committing serious crimes in return for quick money. The court heard the pair received the order around the Lunar New Year last year, after which they started to look for Lau’s information on the internet. Yip claimed he did not know Lau in person but learned that his office was in Chai Wan. He followed Lau from his office to his home in Kowloon Tong. They also learned of Lau’s usual practice of having breakfast at a restaurant in Sai Wan Ho before heading to work. READ MORE: Kevin Lau Chun-to - a Hong Kong journalist at the centre of a storm The pair stole the motorcycle in February, following Lau on several days. The pair moved in on Lau as he parked his car at Tai Hong Street in Sai Wan Ho on February 26. Wong slashed the victim with a beef knife while Yip rode the motorbike to and from the scene. Lau claimed the attacker wore a helmet and slashed him from behind. He only noticed he had been attacked when he felt numbness in his legs. He then saw his attacker run to a motorcycle in front of his car. Another man was waiting on the motorcycle and drove the knifeman away. Lau suffered six deep wounds on his back and legs, keeping him in hospital for almost five months. He still needs physiotherapy to this day. After the sentencing, Lau said he respected the court's decision and expressed hope his assailants would turn over a new leaf. He also urged the police to continue their investigation and arrest the mastermind. Journalists Association chairwoman Shum Yee-lan said journalism was a high-risk job, as powerful people might feel their interests threatened when reporters dug out the truth. Shum noticed reporters had faced more physical violence in recent years. The attack on Lau was particularly serious as it landed him in critical condition. "Many reporters are furious about the attack on Lau," she said. "I find journalists in Hong Kong have no fear as I believe everyone who is determined to be a journalist has a mission in his heart to tell the truth." Police searched CCTV footage and found Yip and Wong had been near Lau’s home in the days leading up to the attack. They left the city for mainland China in the afternoon after Lau was attacked. Police sought assistance from the mainland’s Public Security Bureau to arrest the pair in March. They were handed over to Hong Kong police on March 17 last year. Both Yip and Wong claimed they were arrested on the mainland on March 8 before they were tortured and forced to admit the offence while under the PSB’s detention. They claimed mainland officers told them they did not want the issue to be politicised so forced them to confess. In Hong Kong, the pair admitted on video they found pictures and information about Lau, their preparation and how they carried out the attack. But they did not reveal how they received the order to attack Lau.