IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
MAGISTRACY APPEAL NO.951 OF 2004
(ON APPEAL FROM KCS5197 OF 2004)
Before : Hon Gall J in Court
Date of Hearing : 5 January 2005
Date of Judgment : 5 January 2005
J U D G M E N T
1. The appellant was on 10 September 2004 convicted of failing to display a trade plate, i.e. failing to display a licence plate issuedto the member of the motor vehicle trade to temporary license and insure a vehicle when it was being moved. He was on the same dayfined the sum of $2,000.
2. The facts were that on 12 December 2003, at a few minutes past midnight, the appellant was driving a car north along Tai Mong TsaiRoad and it appears from the sketch that he went on to the wrong side of the road and had a head-on collision with the car southboundon the same roadway. The driver of that car testified that he saw no trade plates at any time. The magistrate found his evidenceto be inconsistent and in respect of the issue of the presence or absence of trade plates said : “… I gave his evidence in thatregard little weight.”
3. Police arrived at the scene some 20 minutes after the accident. The first officer PW2 looked at the vehicle of the appellant andsaw no trade plates attached to it and no trade plates inside the vehicle. He agreed that he was unsure if the scene had been disturbedbefore his attendance. He searched about six metres along the roadway each side of the accident and saw no plates. The skid marksprior to the accident were a far greater distance than six metres. He agreed that he could not see very far off the road on theverges, and onone side there was water and on the other side a steep rising incline. He did not see any trade plates but he agreedthat there was debris from the car flung a considerable distance.
4. Evidence was given for the defence by the further of the appellant who owns a company selling motor cars. He said the car was drivenfrom his premises. DW2 testified that when the car left the premises at about 8 p.m., the trade plates were fixed to the car. Itwas not clear as to how the trade plates were fixed to the car, but in his findings the magistrate refers to the fact that the rearplate was fixed to the spoiler at the top of the back of the car by an elastic band. The evidence of DW2 that the plates were onthe car when it left the premises was accepted by the magistrate as the truth.
5. The magistrate was therefore left with the position that when the vehicle left the premises at 8 o’clock, it had trade plates attached. It was being taken to be considered for purchase by a purchaser at 11 o’clock at a carpark. After the accident some 20 minuteselapsed before the police arrived and the vehicles were not secured during that period and were open to other persons not connectedwith the parties tampering with them. He accepted that some parts of the vehicles had been flung from them and that no full searchwas made to ascertain whether the front and back plates were part of those pieces of the vehicle. He said this :
6. I do not agree that the inference drawn by the magistrate was the only reasonable inference. There was insufficient primary evidenceupon which he could come to that conclusion.
7. In my view, there must have a doubt in respect of this conviction and the appeal will be allowed, the conviction will be quashedand the sentence set aside.
Ms Winsome Chan, SGC of Department of Justice, for the Respondent
Mr Peter Chow, instructed by Messrs C.K. Mok & Co., for the Appellant