Ma Ka Ho



Deputy District Judge Woodcock


18 June 2010 at 10.50 am


Ms Jennifer Fok, PP, of the Department of Justice, for HKSAR
Mr Kong Tak-yuen, Francis, of Francis Kong & Co., assigned by the Director of Legal Aid, for the defendant


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


Reasons for Sentence


1. The defendant has pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in dangerous drugs, contrary to section 4(1)(a) and (3) of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, Cap. 134.

2. The particulars are that on 8 March this year, 2010, he unlawfully trafficked in a dangerous drug, namely, 13.57 grammes of a powdercontaining 11.2 grammes of ketamine.

3. The facts of the case are very straightforward. On 8 March at 11 pm, police officers saw the defendant at Tai Wai Road in Tai Wai,thought he was suspicious and intercepted him. The police officers searched the defendant and found a plastic bag containing thedrugs in his pocket. He was arrested and cautioned. Under caution, he admitted that he was earning some money by carrying the drugsfor another person.

4. He was further interviewed and explained to the police that he was offered $300 to carry this packet of ketamine from Sheung Shuito Mongkok to hand to another person. The defendant describes himself as a drug mule – a courier. The court’s view is that withoutdrug mules, the drug trade would not flourish.

5. The defendant is only 23 years old. He has one previous conviction. However, it was a theft offence committed when he was 17 yearsold and he was fined $800. He is single and lives at home. His family are in court today to support him. His mother and father andprevious employer have written letters to the court asking the court for leniency. The defendant through mitigation has explainedthat he lost his job, was unable to financially support himself and did not want to ask his parents for assistance. Because of hisfinancial situation, he was obviously tempted to earn easy money by acting as a drug mule.

6. The defendant has written his own mitigation letter and expresses his remorse. It hurts him to see his family so disappointed. Hehas promised to turn over a new leaf and stay away from bad peers. The defendant is still young and I do sincerely hope he will keephis word.

7. The defendant has admitted that he has dabbled in drugs since he was 21, mainly taking ketamine by sniffing it. Luckily, he hasnot yet suffered the ill-effects of ketamine. The dangers are well known. It ruins one’s health. Ketamine will irreparably damagekidneys. 20-odd year old men have been before the court charged with ketamine offences wearing adult diapers because of irreparablekidney damage and they will for the rest of their lives.

8. The defendant has admitted his dabbling in drugs, which means he would have had to buy ketamine and I am sure that is how he cameto be associated with dubious drug traffickers. If you stay away from drugs, you will stay away from these type of people. Clearly,in this case the defendant was offered money to be a mule and for only $300 he is now looking at a term of imprisonment. It cannotbe worth it.

9. Defendant, please stand up. You have pleaded guilty today and I am sure you are remorseful. However, guidelines apply to traffickingin ketamine. In Secretary for Justice v Hii Siew Cheng, CAAR7 of 2006, guidelines were set out specifically for trafficking in ketamine. The guideline that applies here is where thereis trafficking of between 10 and 50 grammes of ketamine, a 4 to 6-year starting point would be appropriate. In this case, the quantityis 11.2 grammes. It would mean a 4-year starting point would be appropriate.

10. I will take into account mitigation put forward and the fact you have no previous drug convictions and I will reduce this startingpoint by a further 3 months. For this offence, I take a starting point of 3 years and 9 months. I will reduce this sentence by one-thirdto reflect your guilty plea today.

11. For this offence, you are sentenced to 2 years and 6 months’ imprisonment.

A. J. Woodcock
Deputy District Judge