A Hong Kong man has been ordered to compensate McDonald’s HK$4,000 (US$512) after he admitted damaging a cash register and assaulting an employee who reminded him to wear a mask inside the fast-food restaurant last month.
GoGoVan driver Cheung Yik-yeung, 25, on Thursday said he regretted the incident, explaining that he had left his mask in a taxi after drinking out of stress as the coronavirus pandemic had caused his monthly income to plummet from HK$25,000 to HK$10,000.
He pleaded guilty to charges of criminal damage and assault occasioning actual bodily harm over the incident at the chain’s Shan King Commercial Centre branch in Tuen Mun at about 3.40am on July 14.
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The government introduced mask-wearing requirements in all catering premises – except when eating or drinking – on March 28 in a bid to combat the outbreak, imposing penalties on the person responsible for the business in case of non-compliance.
Tuen Mun Court heard Cheung was about to buy food at the McDonald’s outlet when a staff member, surnamed Lo, reminded him to wear a mask on the premises. But instead of complying, Cheung became emotional and punched the screen of a cash register, causing it to crack.
He then went behind the counter and punched and kicked Lo several times, before fleeing the scene.
In footage of the incident, which has gone viral, a man can be seen running behind the counter and attacking an employee who falls to the ground when trying to get away from the attacker.
Lo was found to have sustained injuries that included an abrasion to his left eyelid, redness on his right elbow, and tenderness on the left side of his waist and right hip.
The damage to the cash register cost McDonald’s HK$4,000.
Police conducted a sweep in Tuen Mun and found Cheung the following night.
Two McDonald’s workers, including Lo, identified him in a line-up.
In mitigation, Cheung’s defence lawyer acknowledged that his client had no reasonable excuse for his offences and said he regretted the incident. But the lawyer also argued that Cheung was not a violent person and that his victim did not suffer serious injuries.
Cheung will be sentenced on September 11, pending court-ordered reports on the suitability of community service.
Acting principal magistrate Cheung Kit-yee also ordered Cheung to compensate McDonald’s HK$4,000.
Criminal damage is punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment, while the maximum sentence for assault occasioning actual bodily harm is three years.
But jail terms at the magistrates’ level are capped at three years.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Coronavirus: Hong Kong police arrest two suspected triad members in connection with assault on McDonald’s manager over refusal to wear mask
- World’s first coronavirus reinfection case confirmed in University of Hong Kong study