IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF APPEAL
1998, No. 365
Coram: Hon. Power, V.-P., Mayo and Stuart-Moore, JJ.A. in Court
Date of hearing: 24 November 1998
Date of delivery of judgment: 24 November 1998
J U D G M E N T
Mayo, J.A. (giving the judgment of the Court):
1. The Applicant together with two other men was convicted of conspiracy to defraud after a trial in the District Court before DeputyJudge Ma. He was sentenced to 3 years and 3 months’ imprisonment. Initially he sought leave to appeal against his conviction. Thishe has now abandoned and the application in respect of the conviction has been dismissed. He also seeks leave out of time to appealagainst the sentence which has been imposed upon him. The reason he gives for being out of time in respect of his appeal againstsentence is that he did not appreciate the difference between appeals against conviction and appeals against sentence. This is hardlya convincing excuse having regard to the form he signed which clearly states the distinction and goes on to direct that both applicationsshould be entertained at the same time.
2. The facts of the case related to what has now become the well known scam of persuading a victim to part with US$ bills and then demonstrateto him the ability to make up two other notes by applying a chemical process to the note provided by the victim. In the present casethe victim was asked to provide US$500,000 . The suggestion was that he would receive a further US$500,000 and the Applicant andhis co conspirators would receive a like sum. The charge was framed in this way:
3. The prosecution case was almost entirely dependent upon the evidence of an undercover police officer. He was the gentleman namedin the charge. He had been introduced to 1st Defendant in the trial below by a police informer. A meeting took place at the coffeeshop of the Holiday Inn Hotel at Tsim Sha Tsui where the officer met 1st Defendant and 3rd Defendant who is the Applicant. They weretaken upstairs to a hotel room where they met 2nd Defendant in the trial below.
4. The scheme was outlined to the officer. He was asked to produce a US$100 note. He gave 1st Defendant two HK$500 notes and he wentout to a moneychanger and obtained US$100. He gave the receipt to the officer together with the change and the officer marked thenumber of the US$ note on the reverse side of the receipt.
5. The demonstration was then proceeded with. Two black notes were produced by the conspirators. Chemicals were applied to them andin due course the black colouring disappeared and revealed two US$ notes which both had different serial numbers to the note whichhad been provided by the officer.
6. The conspirators went on to say that if a large number of notes were going to be processed it would take approximately 24 hours.The officer said that he would endeavour to obtain the US$500,000 and the parties exchanged their telephone numbers. When the officerleft the room he gave a signal to other police officers outside and they came and arrested the men. The police officer gave evidencethat at all times he assumed a passive role and did not himself initiate any action.
7. Before us the Applicant said that no one suffered any loss. Also he claimed that there had been entrapment. This is not so. The Judgegave 1st Defendant the benefit of a reduction in sentence on this account. It was quite wrong to do so. It is impossible to followthe logic of giving a discount to one conspirator in circumstances such as these and not doing so for the others. However as we havealready said there was no entrapment at all. The undercover officer was merely performing his duties in an entirely proper manner.In no way were the men encouraged to do anything which they would not have done. The police must not in any way be discouraged frommounting operations of this nature.
8. The Applicant went on to refer to another case where a lesser sentence was imposed. It goes without saying that every case is differentand dependent on its own individual circumstances.
9. The application for leave to appeal out of time is without merit. No acceptable reason has been given for the failure to lodge theapplication timeously. It is perhaps relevant to add that even if it had been lodged in time the prospects of success would havebeen non existent. Having regard to the nature of the conspiracy it cannot be said that the sentence was in any way excessive orwrong in principle. The application is dismissed.
Mr. D.G. Saw, S.C., S.A.D.P.P. & Mr. Macro K.W. LI (D.P.P.) for Respondent
Julius Ndikum Chi, Applicant in person