Chinese father swims to Hong Kong to support family, but ends up with 11 years’ jail for kidnap and robbery
Guizhou native part of trio who tied up architect’s family at knifepoint and robbed them of more than HK$100,000 in cash and jewellery
A father of two from mainland China who swam to Hong Kong to find a job to support his family but ended up kidnapping and robbing a veteran architect at knifepoint was jailed for 11 years on Monday.
Yang Chao, 28, did not react upon hearing the sentence from Mr Justice Joseph Yau Chi-lap, who expressed sympathy with the fact it would mean an extended period of separation from his young sons but said that was not an effective mitigating factor in light of the seriousness of the crime.
The Guizhou native has already spent a year behind bars for unlawfully entering Hong Kong. Just two days after arriving in the city he joined two accomplices from the mainland in ransacking the home of Ma Kim-see and making off with HK$132,962 worth of valuables.
Yang also helped kidnap the architect before he coerced his wife into withdrawing HK$20,000 in cash and buying HK$261,167 worth of jewellery along with six packs of cigarettes from a mall in Tseung Kwan O.
‘I’ll never set foot in Hong Kong again’: Burglar admits to break-in and kidnapping of city architect
The High Court heard how the couple were only rescued after their domestic helper, left at the house, managed to untie herself and call police.
Yang pleaded guilty last month to two counts of robbery and one count of forcible detention with an intent to sell.
The defence argued in mitigation that Yang should have been given a sentence reduction because his guilty pleas reflected remorse.
But the judge said an aggravating factor in the crime was that Yang was an illegal immigrant who, if he successfully fled Hong Kong, would gravely increase difficulties for investigators working on the case.
The victims were residents of a villa in a rural area and were threatened with knives measuring 30cm by masked men who arrived after meticulous planning, the judge said.
“The defendant blatantly coerced the woman to the mall, and completely disregarded Hong Kong’s law and order,” Yau said. “It goes without saying that the crime brought fear and worry to the two owners and the domestic helper.”
Quoting from another judge, Yau said a deterrent sentence was needed to ensure Hong Kong residents could enjoy their property without fear that they might fall victim to such offences.
Mitigation letters said Yang regretted his actions very much and had only been persuaded by his accomplices to break the law after failing to earn enough money even for a ticket home. However, the judge said economic reasons were no excuse for breaking the law.
“Imprisonment would bring grave economic pressure to the family and deprive the defendant of watching his sons grow up,” the judge said. “The court is sympathetic … but the defendant, as an adult, should have foreseen this before breaking the law. Hence that cannot be considered an effective mitigating factor.”
The Post has learned that the other two suspects involved in the case have been arrested on the mainland and are awaiting trial.