A Hong Kong teenager who threw petrol bombs outside a police station early this year has been jailed for almost four years, with the judge saying any mental issues could not mitigate the defendant’s culpability for “perpetuating violence” amid civil unrest.
The District Court sentenced Kelvin Chan Chun-fai to 46 months behind bars on Monday, after the 18-year-old admitted to hurling two petrol bombs at Kwai Chung Police Station, and keeping another 11 firebombs at an industrial building.
Defence lawyers urged the court to be lenient towards Chan, who has struggled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder since childhood.
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However, District Judge Amanda Woodcock declined to send the trumpet teacher to a correctional facility, pointing out there was no suggestion in presentencing reports that mental issues had played a part in the offences.
Instead, Woodcock said the gravity of the crime called for a deterrent sentence, and the court attached little weight to the defendant’s personal circumstances.
“The public must be protected,” the judge said. “These were planned, calculated and premeditated offences. These were certainly not committed on the spur of the moment or on impulse.”
His best mitigation was his guilty plea, she added.
On September 11, Chan pleaded guilty to one count each of attempted arson, and possessing items with intent to destroy or damage property. The charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison when the case is heard at the District Court level.
Chan was said to be among three black-clad protesters who attempted to bomb the police station shortly after 8pm on January 29.
The group launched a total of four bombs outside the building’s vehicular entrance, leaving a part of the road blackened. One of the bombs nearly hit a woman who walked past.
Police arrested Chan six days later. In a subsequent search, officers seized 11 finished petrol bombs, 2.2 litre of lighter fluid, 1 litre of drain cleaner, and three empty glass bottles inside his subdivided unit at Kingsford Industrial Building.
Under caution, Chan confessed to making the firebombs from instructions found online. He said he had hurled the bombs “for fun”, along with two other people he had met at a demonstration a month earlier, but refused to name them.
On Monday, defence counsel Michael Leung Hung-kuk said his client still hoped to be sentenced to correctional training at the Cape Collinson Correctional Institution, despite objections from the Correctional Services Department.
Leung urged the judge to consider Chan’s age, medical history and genuine remorse in sentencing, adding he had been under the undue influence of the protest movement.
But Woodcock said the incident represented an attack on law and order, which was made worse by the defendant perpetuating violence amid the citywide anti-government protests.
The judge set a starting point of 60 months’ jail for attempted arson, and 42 months’ jail for possessing the dangerous items. She shaved one-third from both terms to reflect Chan’s guilty plea, but ordered six months in the second charge be run consecutively to the first charge, making for a total jail term of 46 months.
This article Hong Kong teen jailed for nearly four years over police station petrol bomb attack first appeared on South China Morning Post