Two Hongkongers have admitted rioting and beating up a resident who complained about the noise they were making during unrest that broke out after a student died from injuries sustained falling from a nearby car park.
Chan Ming-kwai, 59, and Wong Yam-choi, 29, pleaded guilty at the District Court on Friday to two offences relating to the eruption of violence on November 9 last year at Beverly Garden in Tseung Kwan O, where anti-government protesters had gathered in memory of Chow Tsz-lok.
Chow, 22, died on November 8 after reportedly falling a few days earlier from the Sheung Tak Estate car park opposite as police carried out a dispersal operation nearby with rounds of tear gas.
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The group chanted “Hongkongers keep it up” and “corrupted cops” as their numbers continued to grow from the start of the gathering at 12.30am.
Public prosecutor Timothy Chen Ke-hong said their chants woke up a Beverly Garden resident, identified only as X, who went downstairs at about 2.45am to tell the group of more than 20 people to quiet down as he had to go to work the next day.
But X soon found himself surrounded by the protesters, who then swore at him, blocked his path and suddenly assaulted him.
Footage played in court before District Judge Amanda Woodcock showed X making a police report while protesters jeered and shouted foul language.
“I live here and it’s really noisy,” X was seen explaining on the phone.
“I live here, too,” another voice shouted. “We’ll walk you home.”
Among them was taxi driver Chan, who grabbed X’s hand and prevented him from leaving, before someone suddenly pushed the man to the ground. Chan then joined the others in punching and kicking X for about five to 10 minutes.
The videos also caught unemployed woman Wong kicking X three times while hanging onto a tree for leverage, according to the judge’s observation.
A number of people also raised umbrellas, which blocked some cameras, and used them to hit X before police arrived at 3.07am.
A broken metal umbrella shaft stained with X’s blood was seized from the scene.
X was hospitalised for three days with multiple injuries including lacerations to his scalp – which required 13 stitches – forehead, left knee and hand, as well as abrasions on his face, chest and bilateral limbs. He was granted sick leave until December 2, 2019.
The judge noted that X was still suffering from intermittent pain.
X had also complained of nightmares and difficulties in doing strenuous exercise, a source said outside court.
Chan and Wong were arrested that night when officers conducted a sweep of the vicinity. They pleaded guilty on Friday to rioting and wounding with intent and face a maximum sentence of seven years in jail.
X later identified Chan as one of his assailants, and his DNA was found in bloodstains on Wong’s shoes.
In mitigation, defence counsel David Chu said his client Chan initially tried to calm down both parties but lost control as the quarrel dragged on.
Chan expressed remorse in a letter to the court and begged for leniency.
Wong, a mother of three, similarly wrote that she was sorry for committing the offence out of momentary impulse and stressed that she did not premeditate the assault.
Her defence counsel Keith Fung added that she had a history of mental illness, revealing that she was diagnosed with schizophrenia following her arrest.
Woodcock will sentence the pair on November 27, pending reports on Wong’s background and psychiatric condition.
An inquest into Chow’s death will be held later this month, starting from November 16.
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