HKSAR v. OZORME CHINEDU

HCCC 252/2013

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE

CRIMINAL CASE NO 252 OF 2013

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HKSAR
v
OZORME Chinedu

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Before: DHCJ Yau

Date: 7 October 2013 at 9.50 am

Present: Ms Sabra Lo, PP, of the Department of Justice, for HKSAR
Mr Trevor Beel, instructed by Tang, Wong & Cheung, assigned by the Director of Legal Aid, for the accused

Offence: (1) & (2) Trafficking in dangerous drugs(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: The defendant, Mr Chinedu Ozorme, pleads guilty to two counts of trafficking in a dangerous drug, contrary to section 4(1)(a) and (3) of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, Cap 134.

The particulars of the 1st charge are that the defendant on 12 December 2012, outside Ground Floor, No 166 Apliu Street, Sham ShuiPo, Kowloon, unlawfully trafficked in a dangerous drug, namely, 491.1 grammes of a solid containing 275.99 grammes of cocaine.

The particulars of the 2nd charge are that the defendant, on the same day at Room A, Flat B, 3rd Floor, Nos 166-170 Apliu Street,Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, unlawfully trafficked in a dangerous drug, namely, 2,062.90 grammes of a solid containing 1,107.67 grammesof cocaine and 54.17 grammes of a powder containing 28.04 grammes of cocaine.

Facts Admitted

Acting on information, police officers stopped and searched the defendant when he came out from the building at No 166 Apliu Street,Sham Shui Po.

Inside a paper bag carried by the defendant police officers found 31 pellets and some loose powder which were later confirmed to be491.10 grammes of a solid containing 275.99 grammes of cocaine. When police declared arrest, the defendant started to run but wascaught and subdued by the police officers after a chase and struggle during which two police officers and the defendant sustainedinjuries.

With the keys found on the defendant police officers gained entry to Room A, Flat B, 3rd floor, No 166 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po,and opened the locked drawers in the room.

Inside the drawers police officers found an electric scale with traces of cocaine, and three plastic bags containing, respectively,58 pellets, 57 pellets with some powder and 14 pellets which were later confirmed to be 2,062.90 grammes of solids containing 1,107.67grammes of cocaine and 54.17 grammes of powder containing 28.04 grammes of cocaine. Police officers also found another electronicscale with traces of cocaine and a bunch of empty plastic pellets.

The street value of the cocaine at the time of seizure was HK$2,717,713.

Criminal Record

The defendant has a clear criminal record.

Mitigation

The defendant is a 29-year-old Nigerian male, single, educated up to secondary level in Nigeria. Counsel for the defendant tells thecourt that prior to October 2012 the defendant engaged in the business of trading mobile telephones, shipping mobile telephones toNigeria for sale.

The father of the defendant suffered from kidney problems and required urgent medical attention. The defendant committed the presentoffences in a bid to make quick money to meet the medical expenses.

Counsel tenders to the court a mitigation letter written by the defendant. The defendant states in the letter that he is the eldestof seven siblings and is the sole breadwinner of the family. His mother passed away in 2007 and his father is in poor health. Hehas a clear record in both Hong Kong and Nigeria. He accepts full responsibility for committing the offences. He apologises to thecourt and the Hong Kong people and asks for the leniency of the court.

Counsel submits that the total amount of cocaine is about 1.4 kilogrammes and falls within the band of 23 to 24 years’

imprisonment. Counsel urges the court to take a starting point nearer to 23 years’ imprisonment.

Sentence

According to R v Rojas [1994] 1 HKC 342, the sentencing guidelines for trafficking in cocaine is the same as those for trafficking in heroin hydrochloride set down by theCourt of Appeal in R v Lau Tak Ming & Ors [1990] 2 HKLR 370, as modified in HKSAR v Abdallah [2002] HKC 197.

For a quantity of 200 to 400 grammes of cocaine the starting point is 12 to 13 years’ imprisonment and for 600 to 1,200 grammesof cocaine it is 20 to 23 years’ imprisonment.

The quantity of cocaine involved in Charge 1 and Charge 2 are, respectively, 275.99 grammes and 1,137.71 grammes of cocaine and thestarting points are, accordingly, 13 years 2 months’ imprisonment and 22 years 8 months’ imprisonment.

The defendant committed the offences in order to make money to treat the kidney problem of his father but this can never be an excuseto offend the law, nor can it constitute a valid ground of mitigation. The court is of the view that there is no reason not to followthe sentencing guidelines.

Although the defendant tried to run away and struggled with the police officers causing injuries to himself and two police officers,the court is of the view that in comparison with the long sentence the defendant is going to serve, such acts are too trivial asto have the starting points enhanced. The court therefore adopts a starting point of 13 years 2 months’ imprisonment for Charge1, and 22 years 8 months’ imprisonment for Charge 2.

The only mitigation the defendant has is his plea of guilty. Giving him credit for that, the court sentences him to 8 years 9 months’imprisonment for Charge 1 and 15 years 1 month imprisonment for Charge 2.

To be fair to the defendant, he should not receive a sentence longer than when he trafficked all the cocaine in the two charges together.The total quantity of cocaine involved in the present case is 1,411.70 grammes. According to the sentencing guidelines, for a quantityof 1,200 grammes to 4,000 grammes of cocaine the starting point is 23 to 26 years’ imprisonment. This amount of cocaine thereforecarries a starting point of about 23 years 3 months’ imprisonment. For a guilty plea the sentence will become 15 years 6 months’imprisonment.

Having considered the nature of the offences and the totality principle, the court orders 5 months of the sentence of Charge 1 torun consecutively to that of

Charge 2, making a total of 15 years 6 months’ imprisonment.