Hong Kong teenager jailed for nearly 5 years after assaulting bystander, pulling trigger on police officer’s shotgun during snatch attempt at protest

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A teenager has been jailed for nearly five years for assaulting a passer-by and snatching a police officer’s shotgun during a chaotic protest at a Hong Kong shopping centre in 2019.

Chan Chun-hin, 18, was sentenced at the District Court on Thursday on one count each of rioting and attempted possession of firearms, and two counts of resisting a police officer, in relation to the incident at the Landmark North mall in Sheung Shui on December 28 two years ago.

Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che said the student had “completely flouted law and order” with his attack on an innocent pedestrian who took a video of the demonstration.

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Chan could have inflicted serious harm when he pulled the shotgun’s trigger during his attempt to take the weapon, had the firearm been unlocked and loaded, Yiu added.

Police fire pepper spray while trying to detain a man inside Landmark North shopping centre. Photo: Winson Wong
Police fire pepper spray while trying to detain a man inside Landmark North shopping centre. Photo: Winson Wong

At last month’s trial, the court heard Chan had joined a crowd of about 50 people who chanted slogans and blocked a footbridge leading to the shopping centre during a protest against mainland Chinese parallel traders and shoppers in the district.

He was found to have choked the man who filmed the disturbance and covered his accomplices’ assault with an umbrella. The court also held that he had resisted arrest before trying to steal the officer’s Remington shotgun.

The Criminal Procedure Ordinance stipulates that no defendant aged below 21 shall be sentenced to prison “unless the court is of opinion that no other method of dealing with such a person is appropriate”. That rule, however, does not apply in cases involving firearms offences.

In mitigation, defence counsel Pauline Leung Po-lam said Chan was sorry and hoped to contribute to society in the future by “moderate means”.

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In a letter, Chan’s parents described their child as a conscientious, polite and responsible student, who had worked hard in his studies despite suffering from hyperactivity disorder. Chan said in his own letter that he wished to apologise to all those affected.

Yiu sentenced Chan to one month imprisonment on the two counts of resisting a police officer, to which the student pleaded guilty before the trial.

The judge set a starting point of sentence of 51 months and 30 months for rioting and attempted possession of firearms, respectively, before imposing a total sentence of 57 months.

Responding on Thursday, Chief Inspector Sung Ching-wai called the protest “very chaotic” and said it was inevitable that the defendant had managed to get his hands on the firearm. The force would raise officers’ alertness through training and drills, she added.

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