A university student has been sentenced to a correctional facility for blocking roads and possessing an offensive weapon at a Hong Kong protest last November.
West Kowloon Court on Tuesday sent Chan Tung-shing to the Lai Chi Rehabilitation Centre, on Lantau Island, a sentence that adhered to guidelines issued last month by an appeal court concerning sentencing for young offenders in serious cases.
The 18-year-old City University freshman was found guilty of barricading a roundabout in Tsing Yi using traffic cones, rubbish bins and plastic barriers on the night of November 13. He was also convicted of carrying a string of Allen keys with the intent of using them to injure others.
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In his ruling last month, Magistrate Norton Pang Leung-ting referred to Chan’s all-black attire in ascertaining his role in the demonstration, despite a lack of direct evidence showing his participation.
In Tuesday’s mitigation, Chan’s lawyer, Joey Chan Hei-man, said the student had stopped taking part in protests since his arrest and hoped to focus on his data science studies in the future to repay his family for their support.
The lawyer urged the court to consider passing a non-custodial sentence, despite the Correctional Services Department’s recommendation that he be placed under the supervision of one of its correctional centres.
Teen who threw petrol bombs sent to detention centre, after Court of Appeal decides initial punishment not tough enough
“The defendant did not use, or threaten to use, violence. There was no evidence that suggested anybody had been subject to violence,” Chan said.
However, Pang said the present offences, particularly the weapons charge, were serious enough to warrant a custodial sentence despite the defendant’s youth and previously clear criminal record.
In making his ruling, the magistrate referenced a September judgment by the Court of Appeal, which quashed a lower court’s decision to put a 15-year-old on probation for tossing petrol bombs outside a police station, before then sentencing him to detention.
Chief Judge of the High Court Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor said in his written ruling at the time that a defendant’s personal circumstances carried little weight in serious cases, adding the court had to impose deterrent sentences to safeguard the public interest.
“I understand the present case has put the defendant and his family under immense pressure, but I am absolutely bound by the Court of Appeal’s decision,” Pang said.
“In order to protect the general public, maintain social harmony and achieve deterrence, a custodial sentence is the only suitable option.”
Chan will spend two to five months at the Lantau Island facility, before serving another one to four months at a separate correctional centre in Shek Kip Mei. The department will determine the exact period of detention according to the student’s conduct.
The magistrate also rejected Chan’s bail application pending an appeal against his conviction at the High Court.