COURT: On 15 March you entered a plea of guilty to one count of attempted murder. You agreed a Summary of Facts. They revealed thatyou had previously been the boyfriend of a Miss Luk for a little over a year. She ended the relationship with you at the beginningof March 2012. You wished the relationship to continue.
On 8 March, she contacted you by telephone to arrange to go to your flat to collect personal items. She asked the victim in this case,a Mr Cheung, to accompany her. He was at that stage simply a friend of hers and not romantically involved with her.
At around 1.30 on the morning of 9 March, Miss Luk and Mr Cheung went to your flat. She notified you of her imminent arrival, andyou were waiting for her outside the lift when it arrived at your floor. You asked her to identify the victim, and she respondedthat she did not know him. The victim appeared to remain in the lift.
Miss Luk followed you into your flat. After she had entered your flat, the victim waited outside in the corridor. An argument beganwhen you tried to persuade Miss Luk to remain your girlfriend and she refused. You grabbed hold of her and pushed her. She fell,and screamed. This was audible to the victim, who banged on the door of the flat. You went to the door, opened the grille, and pushedthe victim towards an adjacent flat, accusing him of ruining your relationship with Miss Luk.
You punched him several times about the head, dislodging his spectacles and causing him nose bleed. You had him pressed back againsta metal gate, trying to protect himself. You then stopped hitting the victim, and walked back into your flat.
That could be regarded as the first stage of your attack on the victim. It is not hard to imagine that the victim must have been relievedat the cessation of your attack on him. That relief would have been short-lived, for the reason you went back into your flat wasto arm yourself. You fetched a folding knife. It had a blade some 10 centimetres in length.
You came out of your flat, returned to the victim, and started to stab his abdomen. He attempted to shield his body by turning hisback to you and trying to push you away. When you had him pinned against a wall, he shouted at you. Your response to that was tosay to him, “Why don’t you go to hell”, to raise the knife in your right hand, and deliberately to slash at his throat.
He collapsed. He was bleeding from a number of wounds, and his face and body were covered in blood.
Miss Luk had the presence of mind to telephone the police whilst this assault was going on.
You left the victim and returned towards your flat. This could be regarded as the second stage of your assault on the victim. Thevictim seized the opportunity then also to make a call to the police. Outside your flat, you then held the knife against your formergirlfriend’s throat or neck and threatened to kill her as well. Her response to you was, “Kill me”, at which point you droppedto the floor and said to her, “Just kill me.”
She had the presence of mind, and courage, let it be said, to take the bloody knife from you. It was at this stage that you enteredyour flat for a second time and rearmed yourself. The weapon that you selected on this occasion was in the form of a bladed instrumentsome 60 centimetres in length which was usually concealed within a case so as to resemble a walking stick.
You walked back towards Miss Luk, saying to her, “This time I am going to kill him.” Miss Luk again displayed considerable courageand struggled with you in an attempt to disarm you for the second time. She is to be commended for her actions, and I ask that myremarks be conveyed to her.
Fortunately at this stage the police responded to the calls made to them, and arrived at the scene. The victim was taken to hospital.You had inflicted on him multiple serious stab wounds to his face, neck, chest, arms and abdomen. His right eye orbit was fractured.He had emergency surgery to his wounds and was detained in hospital for a week.
There are two photograph albums of the injuries which you inflicted on him, the first group of photographs having been taken apparentlyon 12 March, and the second on 5 April. Many of the wounds in the first album are not immediately visible because of dressings. Whatis visible, however, is the laceration which you inflicted on the victim’s throat, revealing an attempt to cut it from side toside.
The later set of photographs amply illustrate the location and severity of that injury as well as all of the others which you inflicted.
The medical reports which have been made available to me describe in summary a good recovery from the wounds, with the main residualissue appearing to be the victim’s eye. Even there, the prognosis is said to be good. That the wounds were not more severe of courseis pure chance, for that was most certainly not your intention.
It is plain from the injuries that you intended them to be lethal. You told the police this in your subsequent interviews. You alsotold them that the death of the victim was something you had thought about previously because you believed that Miss Luk was attractedto him.
I have been furnished with considerable information about your background. I have read all that was put before me. Of course you havea clear criminal record. You were 20 at the time of this offence. There are all sorts of reports, awards, achievements and photographs,as well as a number of supportive letters. They show you to have been identified as a person of high intelligence and ability, tobe, in your younger years, what was referred to as gifted.
In some ways, these facts make your behaviour more difficult to comprehend. That you have thrown away all the opportunity and benefitswhich these talents may have afforded you is unfortunate, but it is hardly mitigation, given that it is a result of your own consciousand deliberate act. It is, with respect, inaccurate to describe your actions as a lapse of judgment.
There are, of course, no guidelines for sentences in matters of this nature. There cannot be, for the obvious reason that the circumstancesof any particular offence may vary widely.
For this reason, reference to sentences imposed in other matters is only of limited utility. I have reviewed a number of cases inorder to be aware of the type of sentences that are imposed in these matters. Consistently, and unsurprisingly, they involve substantialperiods of imprisonment. One feature that is possible to identify is that the sentences tend to be lower where there is no premeditationinvolved.
My attention has specifically be drawn by your counsel to the decision in HKSAR v Lee Wai Keung. The facts are dissimilar to the present case, although the offender and his victim also previously had been in a relationship. Thereare two features in your case which are absent in that. First, in that matter, the offender attacked his previous girlfriend, which,whilst inexcusable and incapable of justification, is somewhat more comprehensible than your vicious attack on a mere friend of MissLuk. Second, that offender used whatever weapons were available to hand. He did not break off his attack specifically to go to fetcha weapon from another place, nor did he again go to another place to rearm himself when he had been disarmed.
I am urged to take the view that no premeditation was involved in this matter. In the sense that you had not lain in wait for or soughtout your victim, that may be true. However, his death was, as you told the police, within your contemplation even prior to this earlymorning. From your point of view, it must have been fortuitous indeed that Miss Luk had brought him into your presence.
A particularly aggravating feature in the present matter is that you twice had opportunity to cease your assault. On the first occasion,by which stage you had punched the victim a number of times, causing him comparatively minor injuries, albeit that it is mainly theeye injury which still causes him problems, you walked away with the express purpose of arming yourself so as to return to kill him.
It is suggested that you were distraught and emotionally overwhelmed at Miss Luk’s resolve to end your relationship and that youblamed the victim for this having happened. That you were emotional I do not doubt, but you certainly were not overcome by emotion,for you deliberately went into your flat for a second time with the express purpose of rearming yourself.
You emerged armed with a far more vicious weapon, intent upon finishing off your victim. It was only good fortune for the victim,plus the intervention of Miss Luk and the police, that prevented these events from ending in even greater tragedy. That certainlywas not the outcome you desired.
A subsequent statement obtained from your victim in February this year indicates that he still experiences difficulty with his vision.He had reduced mobility in his left hand. He bears significant scarring which must act as a daily reminder to him of your attemptto kill him.
I note that he specifically states that he has not forgiven you for your conduct. I do not let this influence the sentence, for vengeancehas no place in the sentencing process.
Stand up, please. In my judgment, the appropriate starting point to have been imposed after a trial would have been not less than15 years’ imprisonment.
You have pleaded guilty, which entitles you to a discount of one-third from that starting point.
In my judgment, there are no other features either in the offence itself or in your personal circumstances which avail you by wayof mitigation.
You are to serve 10 years in prison.