A Hong Kong court on Tuesday sentenced a man who planted needles in bus seats to injure passengers to two years in prison.
Mok Cham-sum, 32, admitted to trying to hurt three women on June 27, 2018, by placing sewing needles in the seats of two KMB buses – an act that triggered a series of copycat incidents.
Mok, an unemployed former transport worker, said after his arrest that he had committed the bizarre crime because he believed that bus drivers were skipping passengers stops.
He pleaded guilty at the District Court on October 21 to two counts each of attempted wounding with intent and criminal damage.
District Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che said Mok had committed a “very serious” offence as he handed down the sentence, adding that only his clear criminal record and the minor injuries suffered by victims saved him from long-term imprisonment.
“Planting hard and sharp needles in public transport could lead to serious casualties … The court must condemn this type of offence and prevent others from imitating it,” the judge said.
Yiu told the defendant to speak to his family and consult a psychologist the next time he encountered emotional problems.
Mok, who had already served 16 months behind bars, was expected to be released soon, after deductions for his good behaviour in prison, the Post was told.
The court heard that before the offence, Mok was involved in an argument with a bus driver about bypassing stops, and was berated by the driver and other passengers.
The court was told that Mok felt sad after the altercation and planted the needles “on a whim”.
A psychologist said Mok’s report was positive overall, but added that he had occasional emotional issues.
In mitigation, defence counsel Vivien Chan Man-wai said Mok was a “very normal man” who had never committed any crimes in the past.
“The defendant felt down and vented his momentary frustration. He had committed the offence out of impulse,” Chan said, adding that her client was remorseful.
At the previous hearing, prosecutors said Mok, a Tsing Yi resident, had planted sewing needles in the seats of KMB buses on routes 41A and 48X on June 27, 2018, as he travelled around the city to shop.
The first victim, Lam Kit-wing, was punctured in the left buttock after she boarded the same 41A bus in Tsim Sha Tsui at around 6.30pm that day. She jumped up in pain and found an upright needle sticking out from her upper deck seat with its sharp end pointing up.
Another passenger, Leung Ip-ki, was hurt on the upper deck of the same 48X bus, after she boarded at New Town Plaza Bus Interchange at 7.01pm. She immediately changed seats when she felt a sharp object piecer her left thigh.
The third victim, Lo Wing-sze, sat on the seat previously used by Leung and felt her left thigh punctured by a sharp object. She moved slightly and her right thigh was pierced as well.
All victims suffered punctures in their legs but with no bleeding.
Police arrested the defendant after reviewing security footage from the buses. Officers seized seven more needles, ranging in length from 3½cm to 5½cm, at his residence.
Prosecutors said none of the victims suffered major trauma in the aftermath, although they had sought compensation from KMB.