IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 253 OF 2009
Transcript of the Audio Recording
of the Sentence in the above Case
COURT: The defendant pleads guilty to one count of trafficking in dangerous drugs involving 605.30 grammes of a mixture containing 468.06grammes of heroin hydrochloride and 71.20 grammes of monoacetylmorphine hydrochloride.
At about 6.30 pm on 2 April 2009, defendant was intercepted by a Customs Officer while entering Hong Kong through the airport. She was then searched. Subsequently a Customs Officer found a paper bag hidden in a concealed compartment inside her rucksack. The paper bag contained the drugs, as set out in the charge. The defendant admitted under caution that she would get a reward ofUS$1,000 for bringing the bag to Guangzhou. The market price of this quantity of drugs was about $464,000.
Defendant is 34 years old. She has a clear record in Hong Kong. She comes from a family of eight. She is a single mother witha son, nine years old, and a daughter, five years old. She is a secondary school graduate and has completed a two-year secretarialcourse. She used to work as a small trader selling sundry items, such as shoes and clothing. She earned about 3,000 pesos per month.
After completing another course on care for the aged she went to Bangkok to find a job. There she could only work as a babysitter. She then went to Kuala Lumpur and a friend suggested her to take the bag to Guangzhou for a reward. She knew it contained contrabandbut did not know the exact nature of the content. She is not an addict.
I notice that there was another drug, monoacetylmorphine hydrochloride, present in the mixture. According to the Summary ofFacts the presence of monoacetylmorphine hydrochloride could be a result of the presence of some moisture in the acidic anhydrideused or the subsequent partial hydrolysis of the heroin by moist air. Both heroin hydrochloride and monoacetylmorphine hydrochlorideare narcotic analgesic with similar potency.
Given this information I would add the weight of the two drugs together for the purpose of sentencing. The sentencing tariffin HKSAR v Lau Tak Ming is applicable. For the quantity of heroin hydrochloride and monoacetylmorphine hydrochloride in this case the sentence should be15 to 20 years’ imprisonment.
I have considered the mitigation by counsel and the letter submitted by the defendant today. She may be an obedient daughterand a caring mother. The offence she committed is very serious that warrants imprisonment. Worse still, she did it solely for financialreward. She is the author of her own misfortune. Suffering of family members is not a strong mitigation. I see no reason to belenient.
I bear in mind that there is also an international element in the present case as the heroin was taken from Kuala Lumpur viaHong Kong to Guangzhou. The starting point should be enhanced to reflect this aggravating factor.
Having considered the amount of heroin hydrochloride and monoacetylmorphine hydrochloride, her background and the mitigation,I take 18 years and 6 months as the starting point. I add 6 months to reflect the international element in this case. The finalstarting point is 19 years. I deduct 6 years and 4 months for her plea. There being no other reason for further reduction, I sentencethe defendant to 12 years and 8 months’ imprisonment.