A Hong Kong man who vandalised an HSBC branch in anger at the closure of a protest fundraiser’s account was given compulsory rehabilitation by a court on Thursday, after police found he had a history of drug abuse.
Unemployed Wong Kwui-ho, 33, broke into the bank in the Sheung Shui Centre on the afternoon of December 30, and damaged four ATMs, two cash deposit machines, a cheque deposit machine, two advertising light boxes, and five reinforced glass windows, damage totalling HK$200,000 (US$25,727).
Police arrested the defendant on a nearby public housing estate later that day. Upon inquiry, they discovered the defendant had been consuming Ice for a prolonged period.
Wong pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage at Fanling Court earlier this month.
On Thursday, acting principal magistrate Don So Man-lung spared the defendant jail and sentenced him to rehabilitation at an addiction treatment centre, to end his drug use.
The magistrate also considered the fact that the defendant had not used dangerous items or injured anyone.
HSBC was embroiled in the ongoing anti-government protests following its decision two months ago to close a corporate banking account run by Spark Alliance HK, a crowdfunding platform that had raised about HK$80 million in support of the movement.
Last month, police froze about HK$70 million in the account and arrested four people on suspicion of money laundering. The arrestees, aged 17 to 50, were later released on bail.
The move sparked the ire of protesters, with radicals vandalising multiple outlets of the bank. Some of them also set fire to the lion sculptures outside the bank’s local headquarters in Central.
Wong was the first to be sentenced in connection with the attacks.
Fanling Court heard he admitted to police officers that he committed the offence because he had been angered by HSBC’s decision to shut down the account.
Defence lawyer Edward Ng U-ock said in mitigation his client had reflected deeply upon his action after he was remanded by the court.
He said the defendant could barely maintain a living relying solely on his savings, and he wished to return to work again to take care of his ageing mother. The defendant promised not to take part in protests in the future.
Ng said the defendant had received help from an unnamed organisation, and was willing to fully compensate the bank for the damage he inflicted.
The magistrate did not make any orders in this respect, after considering the court might not be entitled to grant a compensation order involving large sums. He directed parties to resolve the issue by alternative means.
This article Hong Kong man who vandalised HSBC branch ordered to attend rehabilitation for drug abuse first appeared on South China Morning Post