Mong Kok riot

Man who threw brick at police ‘for fun’ during Hong Kong’s Mong Kok riot jailed for nearly three years

Waiter also admitted shaking a signpost, loosening bricks which others picked up, during 12-minute episode that hurt 29 officers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2018, 3:15pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 12:40pm

A young Hong Kong man who admitted throwing a brick at police for fun during the 2016 Mong Kok riot was on Wednesday jailed for just under three years after a judge criticised his “egregious” behaviour as selfish.

Tang Ho-yin, a 26-year-old waiter, pleaded guilty to one count of riot over the violent clashes that escalated from a hawker control operation gone wrong in the popular shopping district during the Lunar New Year.

He was the first person sentenced after pleading guilty to a single count of riot in connection with the unrest that began on February 8 and ended with more than 100 officers injured.

District Judge Eddie Yip Chor-man adopted a starting point for sentence of five years, leaving Tang – even after time was shaved off – with a sentence similar to those of other rioters who pleaded not guilty and went to trial.

The District Court heard Tang was among dozens of protesters who attacked police on Shantung Street early on February 9, 2016, hurling objects such as bricks and glass bottles at officers.

He was seen at the front of the group when he hurled a brick at police, and admitted upon arrest that he had shaken a signpost during the riot, loosening the bricks around it, which video footage later showed people picking up.

Prosecutors said the 12-minute episode left 29 police officers injured.

According to investigators, Tang said after his arrest: “I shook the signpost and hurled a brick for fun. I meant no harm.”

The judge called Tang’s acts “an egregious way to have fun at the expense of others”.

Tang’s lawyer Douglas Kwok King-hin argued for leniency as his client threw only one brick. But Yip took reference from riot cases in Britain and concluded that individual acts cannot be considered in isolation.

“In the view of this court it is a wholly wrong approach to take the acts of individuals in isolation,” the judge said. “They were not committed in isolation.”

But he accepted the mitigation that Tang was affected by his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diagnosed when he was in primary school.

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A court-ordered psychiatric report gave the opinion that Tang committed the offence impulsively, without considering the consequences of his actions due to a lapse in judgment. 

The judge therefore took six months off the sentence, after reducing the starting point of sentence by a third to five years to credit Tang’s timely guilty plea, making two years and 10 months.

Riot is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Five men and a woman who pleaded not guilty to the same charge were previously jailed for between 36 and 57 months, after trial.

Nine other men, who completed their trial in October, still await their fate. The verdict is scheduled for May 2. Another man, their co-defendant, who already pleaded guilty, will be sentenced on the same day.