Man who hurled brick at police ‘for fun’ during Mong Kok riot prepares to be sentenced
Defence lawyer says his client suffered from a mental disorder in a case that raises questions about how much jail time rioters should get
The lawyer of man who said he hurled a brick at police for fun during the 2016 Mong Kok riot argued on Monday that his client’s actions were a lapse in judgment, in case that raises the question of how big a factor a defendant’s role should play when sentencing rioters.
Tang Ho-yin, 25, pleaded guilty in December to one count of rioting, an offence punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment.
During his sentencing hearing on Monday, the District Court heard a clash between protesters and police at Shantung Street on February 9, 2016, was part of a bigger riot that escalated from a hawker control operation gone wrong in the city’s popular shopping district.
Tang was among dozens of protesters who attacked police, hurling objects that included bricks and glass bottles at officers despite repeated warnings.
A police camera caught Tang hurling an object towards police.
Another video showed some members of the group chasing after retreating officers, as well as kicking and beating those who fell onto the ground.
The 12-minute episode left 29 police officers injured, senior public prosecutor Derek Lau said.
Tang admitted when he was arrested on November 10, 2016, that he had shaken a signpost and hurled a brick during the incident for fun. “I meant no harm,” he had said.
Citing from English Court of Appeal case, judge Eddie Yip Chor-man said that it was not possible to differentiate between roles as long as one took part in the rioting since his or her very presence encourages other people to join in.
But defence counsel, Douglas Kwok King-hin, argued that throwing one brick ought to attract different culpability from throwing 10 bricks, or else other people would not regulate their conduct once the first brick was hurled as they would all share the same consequences.
Kwok also read out a court-ordered psychiatric report which diagnosed Tang with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and spoke of his client’s difficult background.
“He committed the offence in an impulsive manner without analysing the consequences, due to a lapse in judgment,” Kwok said, reading from the report. “He knew what he did was wrong … he did not intend to harm anybody but he threw the object impulsively.”
Lau countered that the report did not clearly state the offence was committed due to the disorder.
Tang will be sentenced on April 11.
He was the second defendant to plead guilty to a single count of rioting following the Mong Kok disturbances.
Ng Ting-kai, a 25-year-old unemployed man who was the first to plead guilty in June last year, will be sentenced at West Kowloon Court on March 29.