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Crime in Hong Kong

Reoffending robber gets 7 years’ jail after targeting women hikers in Hong Kong

Police tracked down Zhang Suileng through mobile phone he had taken at knifepoint from one of his victims on hiking trail

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 6:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 10:29pm

A mainland Chinese man who sneaked into Hong Kong to target women hikers in a series of robberies was nabbed thanks to a mobile phone he stole, a court heard on Tuesday.

Zhang Suileng, who just three months before reoffending had been freed from a Hong Kong prison for similar offences, was caught in Tuen Mun after police took advantage of the global positioning system (GPS) on the iPhone he stole in the last of his four robberies.

They relied on the gadget to find his hideout, and then his Octopus card to locate him.

He stole more than HK$90,000 (US$11,500) worth of cash and valuables during the four attacks and threatened his victims with knives.

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His crimes were criticised by the High Court judge sentencing him, Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes, who refused to accept that Zhang picked up his knives on the hills, as he claimed to police.

“As if there are so many knives, including a chef’s knife, for one to pick up,” she said.

She sentenced him to seven years in jail after he pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery on Tuesday.

“Your sole purpose to enter here illegally was to rob hikers,” the judge said, spelling out the aggravating factors.

She also berated Zhang for being a reoffender, having just served a six-year term for a previous robbery.

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Prosecutor Lily Yip told the court that all the robberies took place between December 27, 2016 and February 20 the following year. Two took place on the same day on the Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail in Cheung Sha Wan, while the others occurred on the Wilson Trail in Sha Tin and MacLehose Trail in Ma On Shan on different days.

In most cases, Zhang wrapped his arm around his victims’ back before pointing a knife at them, the prosecutor said. One of the victims, Yip said, was a 66-year-old lone hiker.

On one robbery, he ambushed a mother, 53, and her 23-year-old daughter with an eight-inch knife, the court heard. The daughter begged him not to hurt her mother.

“They would have been scared to death,” the judge said of the victims.

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Yip said the defendant took mobile phones, cash, Octopus cards and jewellery worth HK$91,000 in total.

A day after the last robbery, the police homed in on Pik Wan Road, Lam Tin, based on the GPS signal from the iPhone. They found his hideout and his belongings including an Octopus card.

After tracking the card’s purchase records, they caught Zhang at a convenience store in Tuen Mun Town Plaza.