Paralegal gets 5½ years’ jail for biting off police sergeant’s fingertip during chaotic Hong Kong protest at shopping mall

Jasmine Siu
·3-min read

A paralegal has been jailed for 5½ years for a rapid string of assaults and disorderly conduct which included biting off a Hong Kong police sergeant’s fingertip during an anti-government protest in 2019.

District Judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng on Monday said To Kai-wa, 24, committed a series of offences within minutes during chaotic clashes at New Town Plaza shopping centre in Sha Tin on July 14, 2019, and “cruelly” inflicted tremendous harm upon the sergeant in a serious case of wounding.

The judge also noted the defendant had knowingly attacked two other officers with an umbrella – fracturing a finger of one – and incited protesters on site to assault or insult police.

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“[The attacked officer] had no prior contact with the defendant, let alone any confrontation,” he said. “He was attacked only because he was a police officer.”

Chan said this aggravating factor warranted a deterrent sentence, which he believed was more important than the defendant’s rehabilitation.

Anti-government protesters and police officers clash at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin on July 14, 2019. Photo: Felix Wong
Anti-government protesters and police officers clash at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin on July 14, 2019. Photo: Felix Wong

But he also accepted To was a man of prior good character without any previous criminal record, and discounted his sentence before imposing an overall term of 5½ years.

To, an employee at Kenneth Lam Solicitors who graduated from the University of Hong Kong, was found guilty last month of all four counts he had been charged with: disorderly conduct in a public place, assaulting a police officer, inflicting grievous bodily harm and wounding with intent.

The District Court heard To dropped an umbrella from height and used another to assault two police officers, before he bit off the tip of the sergeant’s right ring finger and fractured what remained of the digit.

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The sergeant had testified to experiencing “intense” pain while holding To down using pressure-point control tactics he had learned in training.

A neurologist for the prosecution concluded the bite was deliberate, while another one hired by the defence argued it could have been a spontaneous response to shock or pain – specifically, the sergeant using his right index finger to poke To in the eye.

The judge sided with the prosecution in finding that a reflexive movement of the jaw was merely a “fanciful possibility”, and had never been documented by medical journals.

He dismissed the defence doctor’s claim that the movement could have been an involuntary response to shock or pain as unsubstantiated speculation, ruling that To must have knowingly bit down on the sergeant’s fingertip with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm.

But, in sentencing, Chan also accepted that To did not set out to bite the sergeant, finding that he had only done so when the officer slipped his hand into the defendant’s mouth.

The sergeant was granted sick leave for 13½ months, after the tip of his right ring finger was “completely severed”, with the remaining section fractured.

He underwent reattachment surgery on the severed fingertip on July 15, 2019.

Still, he complained of frequent sharp pain when he testified at trial last October, noting he had only achieved 60 to 70 per cent recovery.

Wounding with intent is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison, but the term is capped at seven years when the case is heard at the District Court.

This article Paralegal gets 5½ years’ jail for biting off police sergeant’s fingertip during chaotic Hong Kong protest at shopping mall first appeared on South China Morning Post

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