A Hong Kong teenager has been ordered to do 120 hours of community service for possessing raw materials for making petrol bombs, after prosecutors successfully convinced the Court of Appeal to quash her original sentence.
The 16-year-old had been placed on probation, but on Wednesday a panel of three judges granted an application for review of sentence made by prosecutors, replacing the original 12 months’ probation with a community service order, as recommended by reports.
“The court finds a community service order a suitable sentence,” Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor, the chief judge of the High Court, said.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
The girl, who cannot be identified because of her age, was also ordered to obey a curfew from 7pm to 6am, and take part in educational or training activities as directed by the supervising probation officer.
Breaches could result in variation of the community service order, or a new sentence, Poon warned.
Last month, Poon concluded that Magistrate Kelly Shui had erred when she said all sentencing options were open, without calling for the necessary reports to assess the suitability of each option before deciding on probation in June.
People under probation orders are required to be of good behaviour and to remain in contact with a probation officer as may be required.
If a probationer reoffends before the order expires, or breaches the conditions of the order, they may be resentenced for the original offence.
The girl’s sentence prompted prosecutors to seek a review, demanding she be remanded to reflect the seriousness of the case and to deter her from committing further crimes.
But the teenager’s defence counsel, Victor Ho, maintained support for non-custodial alternatives, such as community service, which he argued would balance personal rehabilitation and public considerations.
Her latest pre-sentencing reports found the girl suitable for unpaid community service, given her background, previous clear record, remorse, and willingness to take part.
The girl had pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an instrument fit for unlawful purpose, an offence punishable by two years in prison and a HK$5,000 fine.
Tuen Mun Court heard the Form Four student was stopped by police in the early hours of September 30 last year after a taxi driver reported seeing people putting up posters in support of the anti-government protests near a school in Tin Shui Wai.
She was found to be carrying a paper bag, which contained a glass bottle, antiseptic solution, lighter fluid, a towel, and some white powder wrapped in tin foil.
The girl later admitted to wanting to make a petrol bomb – following instructions on the encrypted messaging service Telegram – for fun, and to test the “the force” of the finished product by the riverside.
The same panel of judges, who included Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, and Mr Justice Derek Pang Wai-cheong, earlier quashed another probation order given by the same magistrate in a separate case involving a 15-year-old boy who hurled three petrol bombs.
His original sentence was later replaced by a detention centre order.