A Hong Kong teen involved in an elaborate plot to seriously injure Civil Human Rights Front convenor Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit amid last year’s anti-government unrest has been sent to a training centre.
But his co-defendant, 30-year-old salesman Lo Kin-wa, was not spared jail, with the District Court handing down a sentence of three years and 10 months.
The case centred on an armed attack that took place when Sham was having lunch with friend Law Kwok-wai at Via Restaurant on Tak Hing Street in Jordan on August 29 last year, after he met and exchanged views with protesters targeting his organisation in the same area.
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Two masked men barged into the cafe, one armed with a baseball bat and the other a 60cm-long butcher’s knife. Sham’s friend was injured when he shielded the activist from three blows of the bat. But the two assailants escaped and remain at large. The teen, now 16, and Lo were later arrested following police investigation
Case officer Tsui Tsun-on said investigations were ongoing and it would be inappropriate to reveal further details.
District judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng said the conspiracy called for a deterrent sentence, as it involved a planned attack – with extreme care to minute details – on a political figure at a time when society was deeply divided.
“One must not resort to violence to resolve political disputes,” he said on Monday.
Chan also noted the assailants could have seriously harmed Sham if it were not for Law.
Lo earlier told investigators “some Hongkonger in Tuen Mun wanted to cripple” Sham, and the reward was HK$2 million (US$258,000). He pocketed HK$5,000 (US$645) after being recruited by a man he called “Boy” to act as the driver, and had asked the teenager to take turns behind the wheel.
The teen, whose name has been withheld by the Post because he was only 15 at the time of the assault, earlier admitted to tailing the activist and driving two armed assailants for HK$3,000, despite being too young to hold a licence.
The judge concluded the crime was aggravated by the fact Lo had recruited the teen to take part in the conspiracy and drive illegally over a long distance. But he declined to further stiffen their sentences as he acknowledged Law had forgiven them.
The teen was sentenced on four counts: conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, taking a conveyance – the car used – without authority, driving without a valid licence and using a motor vehicle without third-party insurance.
Lo pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and driving without third-party insurance or the car owner’s consent. He expressed remorse for committing the offence for money.
In mitigation, the teen’s counsel said adults had taken advantage of his client and urged the court to place him in a detention centre, arguing it would be a short, sharp shock that balanced deterrence with rehabilitation.
Pre-sentencing reports found the teen suitable for both training and detention centres, but the judge found the latter too lenient.
Training centres are an alternative to imprisonment for offenders aged between 14 and 20, with an emphasis on rehabilitation. They are required to pick up a trade during their detention, which lasts anywhere between six months and three years.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Friend hurt protecting Hong Kong activist Jimmy Sham during attack seeks leniency for two conspirators in plot
- HK$2 million bounty was offered to cripple Hong Kong protest organiser Jimmy Sham, court hears