HKSAR v. CHOW YUET KWAN

HCCC184/2009

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE

CRIMINAL CASE NO. 184 OF 2009

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HKSAR
v
CHOW YUET KWAN

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Before: Deputy High Court Judge Line in Court

Date: 24 July 2009 at 10.54 am

Present: Mr Vincent Wong, Senior Public Prosecutor of the Department of Justice, for HKSAR
Mr Frederic Charles Whitehouse, instructed by Messrs Cheng Wong Lam & Partners, assigned by the Director of LegalAid, for the Accused

Offence: Trafficking in a dangerous drug (販運危險藥物)

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Transcript of the Audio Recording

of the Sentence in the above Case

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COURT: Stand up, please. I have to sentence you on your plea of guilty for trafficking in dangerous drugs. The drug in questionwas Ice, and you had 275 grammes of it. You know perfectly well that the way the courts approach these matters is to follow guidelinesin published cases, those guidelines being based on the weight and nature of the drug. For this Ice you fall into the category thatstarts at 70 grammes and runs up to 300 grammes, attracting a starting point after trial of between 10 and 14 years’ imprisonment.

It is right to say that it is not entirely a mathematical exercise, but you cannot expect to be sentenced at the bottom end ofthe bracket when the drugs come out at the top end of it. I know you want to be sentenced today and that you do not want to takeup what your counsel has put before me,: the prospect of looking at a DATC report. On your behalf that was completely realistic. There was no question of you ever being sent to DATC for a crime of this gravity.

I know you appreciate that. But because the prospect has been mentioned in open court, I want you to know that by asking tobe sentenced today you have not turned your back on what could have been a prospect. You will well understand that the courts areconcerned with consistency in cases like this because people in adjacent cells could say, “I trafficked in 275 grammes of Ice andI’ve got so many years.” It is just wrong for people in adjacent cells to have disparate sentences.

I bear in mind that you are only 26 and that you have two young children, but the personal circumstances of people who are usedto carry dangerous drug cannot be allowed to have any great affect on the sentence, otherwise all drug traffickers would be youngmothers. So you will understand that my hands are, in effect, very much tied. The amount of discretion I have is small.

What I can identify in your case is mitigation based on your immediate admission of guilt, your immediate decision to involveyourself in a controlled delivery in order to help the Customs & Excise who had arrested you, their opinion that it was a genuineeffort you made in good faith, and that followed by your plea at the earliest opportunity in the Magistrates’ Court.

When I first saw the papers I had in mind the starting point of 13 years’ imprisonment. But bearing in mind the matters thatI have been able to point to – even though the controlled delivery in fact came to nothing – I round that down very marginally. But on the facts of this case where you knowingly carried Ice into Hong Kong from the mainland, you cannot expect a starting pointless than 12½ years.

Accordingly, the sentence I pass upon you is one of 8 years and 4 months’ imprisonment. In my view, you could not realisticallyhave hoped for a lesser sentence. It is a long sentence, but the evils of drug trafficking are obvious. You only have to look tosee what it has done to your young life to realise that.