A 12-year-old boy became the youngest protester to be convicted over the civil unrest that broke out in June when he pleaded guilty on Thursday to vandalising a police station and railway interchange last month.
The lawyer of the Form Two pupil asked the court to give the minor a second chance, saying he was remorseful since being charged and only acted on impulse at the time of the offences, which involved spraying obscene graffiti.
The student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted two counts of criminal damage at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court for vandalising Mong Kok Police Station and an exit at Prince Edward MTR station on October 3.
In mitigation, his lawyer told magistrate Edward Wong Ching-yu the boy was so remorseful he only left his home to attend school after his arrest, and had not played basketball or practised dragon dance since.
“He knows he made a serious mistake,” said defence counsel Jacqueline Lam, who asked the court to pass a sentence that would not leave someone so young with a criminal record.
“It has been an important lesson to him, as he was detained overnight at a police station after arrest.”
But Wong reserved the option to impose a probation order, where the boy would be under the counselling and supervision of a probation officer for up to three years. The order would leave him with a criminal record.
Wong also called for a social welfare report to assess his suitability for a protection order, where he would be under the custody of a guardian appointed by the Social Welfare Department.
The boy will be sentenced on December 19.
Prosecutors said a police officer in plain clothing saw the masked defendant spray the words – “damn rogue cops”, alongside an obscenity about their families – using black paint on the wall of Mong Kok Police Station, at 7.30pm on October 3.
The officer followed the boy to Prince Edward MTR station, where the minor sprayed “divine annihilation, free HK” on the wall of exit B1.
The boy was traced to his residence by the officer, who waited outside until 7am the following day, when the boy went to school in uniform.
When he was intercepted and brought to his home, a police search found a bottle of black paint and items of clothing were seized.
In subsequent interviews under caution, the boy, accompanied by his grandmother, said he committed the offences alone and was sorry for what he had done.
Lam submitted seven mitigation letters written by members of the boy’s family, as well as teachers.
She said the boy’s parents were divorced and he had been taken care of by his 75-year-old grandmother since he was small, sometimes helping her wash dishes and take her medication.
His separated parents promised to strictly monitor his situation in the future.
On why the boy committed the crime, Lam said he had been influenced by society and was troubled by the situation in Hong Kong.
He had not been able to think rationally and acted impulsively at the time of the offences, according to the lawyer.
“I ask the court to give him a chance. After all he’s just 12 years of age,” Lam added.
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