A man accused of vandalising a police vehicle during an anti-government demonstration in Hong Kong avoided jail on Friday on a reduced charge of attempted criminal damage, after the defence countered with online footage of the incident.
Ng Wai-man, 64, was given 15 months’ of probation by Eastern Court. He admitted he had attempted to damage the police van with a baggage trolley outside Hong Kong MTR station on the night of October 14 last year.
The retiree initially faced one count of criminal damage. Prosecutors said that when protesters surrounded the vehicle while officers were apprehending a protester at 9pm, Ng hit the police van twice with the trolley, leaving a dent and a scratch.
Prosecutors said police relied on television footage to support their allegation, but the defence countered that other online sources had revealed the defendant only hit the vehicle on its tyre and caused no visible damage.
In the last hearing on December 13, prosecutors then said they would press on with a lesser charge of attempted criminal damage, upon seeking legal advice. Ng pleaded guilty to the charge.
On Friday, Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan accepted that the defendant had committed the lesser offence out of impulse and sentenced him to probation as suggested by the probation officer.
Ng told the Post that after his first court appearance, he had found online footage showing he was not the one who caused the damage to the police van. He later obtained the original footage from a reporter, after raising a placard at a rally several days later in search of the individual behind the video.
In the same courtroom, Ngan Wai-ho, 20, who is unemployed, saw his charge dropped after prosecutors admitted they had insufficient evidence to accuse him of possessing two spanners.
He was charged with one count of possessing an instrument fit for unlawful purpose, after he was arrested during a rally in Causeway Bay on November 2.
Also on Friday, 14 men aged 17 to 39 faced a range of allegations – from criminal damage, possessing prohibited items to assaulting a police officer – following their arrests during the protests on New Year’s Day.
They included Sam Ka-lam, 37, a guest lecturer at Education University. He was apprehended after police officers intercepted him in Wan Chai and found a home-made crossbow, 20 sharpened wooden sticks and two wooden sticks in his possession.