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Crime in Hong Kong

Businessman paid Hong Kong police officers HK$60,000 for inside information on murder case

Trio found guilty of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and are facing jail terms that will not just be ‘a matter of months’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 8:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 10:27pm

Two Hong Kong policemen and a businessman were found guilty over a conspiracy in which the officers divulged confidential details of a murder case in exchange for HK$60,000 (US$7,700).

Constable Lee Yuen-fook, 48, and station sergeant Yip Kwok-leung, 51, even went as far as to advise Hung Wai-ming, who sought the information, to instruct murder suspects not to make confessions, the District Court heard during the trial.

That would save the suspects in a 2014 murder investigation from being jailed for life, Hung was told, as police had no solid evidence against them.

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On Wednesday, Judge Eddie Yip Chor-man found that the three defendants had exchanged details of the investigation between 2014 and 2015 without a reasonable excuse, which amounted to “continuous” and “serious” misconduct that went against the public interest of a proper criminal investigation.

“It is obvious that the official capacity of [Lee and Yip] gave them access directly or indirectly … to the information kept by the police, which must be the reason [Hung] paid them rewards,” he said, rejecting the defence’s argument that the information divulged was not confidential.

Rejecting their bail applications, the judge made it clear their jail terms would not just be “a matter of months”. He ordered background reports on them and will hear their mitigation on February 14.

The case revolved around the killing of Wong Man-king on October 5, 2014. Wong was fatally stabbed after he attacked two customers in a Tsim Sha Tsui bar.

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The court heard Hung, 47, asked Lee for inside information following the murder. Lee, an officer in the Tin Shui Wai division, turned to Yip, who had worked in the intelligence department.

They provided Hung with various information, including the investigation’s progress, closed circuit television footage details and the result of a DNA test, which found no trace of the suspects on the victim.

The trio had pleaded not guilty to one joint count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

The court heard the Independent Commission Against Corruption bugged their vehicles to tape their conversations on six occasions, one of which caught Lee and Hung discussing how to spread the money among four to five people.

Lee also told Hung that his side had tried to “suppress” the evidence, and that the suspects would be fine as long as they were handled by their team. But the court heard neither Lee nor Yip were involved in the investigation.

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Recovered phone messages showed Lee would forward to Hung the texts from Yip, who got the confidential information from another officer surnamed Cheng.

In one text, Lee warned Hung that even if the suspects, some of whom had fled overseas, were detained when they returned to surrender, they should not confess even if they were “beaten to death”.

“Even a guilty plea could not mitigate a murder conviction,” he texted Hung, referring to the mandatory life imprisonment.

As Yip divulged more details, Lee texted Hung to tell him there was no evidence against the suspects. DNA found on the victim, Lee told Hung, was not from any of the suspects.

All the suspects were discharged unconditionally.