HKU student gets 18 months’ probation for filming woman in nude with hidden camera

Cody Jims Ha, 21, put micro-camcorder on bookshelf in victim’s dorm room

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 2:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 6:45pm

A University of Hong Kong student was given an 18-month probation order on Monday for secretly placing a camera inside a female resident’s dorm room and filming her in the nude.

The 21-year-old statistics and actuarial science student, Cody Jims Ha, earlier admitted to three counts of dishonest use of a computer and confessed that he had secretly filmed the victim on three separate occasions in April, May and July last year in the student hall of HKU’s St John’s College.

Appearing in the Eastern Court on Monday morning, the defendant’s lawyer said Ha was full of regret over his acts and had been receiving psychological counselling. He was willing to follow the probation conditions if given a chance.

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Principal magistrate Bina Chainrai said the defendant was a young man with a supportive family and believed the event was unlikely to be repeated.

She adopted recommendations in Ha’s psychological and psychiatric reports and handed down a probation order, but for 18 months instead of the 12 months that were suggested.

He has to receive psychiatrist and psychological treatment
Bina Chainrai, judge

“The defendant has to study or work as guided by the probation officer,” Chainrai said. “He has to receive psychiatric and psychological treatment. He also has to join community projects.”

An HKU spokeswoman said the institution would initiate disciplinary procedures, as appropriate, when a student was convicted.

The court earlier heard that the victim, identified in court as X, discovered a micro-camcorder on the bookshelf in her dorm room last July.

She found footage of herself, including nude images, on the device’s memory card. The footage also showed Ha adjusting the camera in her room.

The woman, who knew Ha but was not familiar with him, told her boyfriend about the issue.

Ha later confessed to the hall staff, who called police. Officers found 13 videos of the female student on Ha’s computer.

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Ha said in his defence that he was under enormous pressure from examinations and had committed the crime on impulse.

The defendant was born in the United States and came to Hong Kong for secondary school. He obtained a scholarship to study actuarial science at HKU.

Those convicted of accessing a computer with dishonest or criminal intent face up to five years’ imprisonment.