IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
CRIMINAL CASE NO 175 OF 2012
Transcript of the Audio Recording
COURT: At about 11.25 am on 2 August 1999 the defendant went into the Chartered Bank at No. 117, Ground Floor, Yiu On Shopping Centre,Ma On Shan. He threw two bottles over the counter and declared robbery. One bottle broke and there was a strong smell of kerosene.The defendant was wearing a white mask, gloves, a T-shirt and blue jeans. He also wore a vest with orange reflective horizontal stripes.The teller was very frightened. She threw out several stacks of bank notes. It was later found to be a total of $4,580. The defendantthen left.
Later on the same day the defendant boarded taxi FT 2329 at Yiu On Estate taxi stand. He told the taxi driver to go to Heng On Estateand then to Tsuen Wan.
On the way the taxi driver noticed in the rear mirror that a police officer was chasing after the taxi. The defendant told the driverto drive on or else he would stab her to death. The taxi drove on slowly but was blocked by a lorry. Suddenly the defendant jumpedoff the taxi and fled.
Subsequently the police found a shopping bag at the rear seat of the taxi. Inside the bag were some cash, a mask, a pair of glovesand a vest with reflective stripes.
Chemist analysis revealed that the bottles contained toluene which is a highly inflammable organic liquid. It is a common constituentof paint thinner.
In November 2011, police investigation revealed that the DNA on the mask and the gloves matched that of the defendant. The defendantwas arrested as he was in DATC by that time.
The defendant is 45. He has 13 previous convictions. He was sentenced to prison for robbery in 1995 and 2005. The other convictionsare mainly drug-related offences. The defendant is divorced. He received education up to Primary 6. He was a construction site workerat the time of the offence. He was an addict.
In mitigation, counsel pointed out that the bank was quite close to the site at which the defendant worked. At the time of the offencethe defendant was desperate to get money for his addiction. The vest and gloves were used during work. The defendant just fetchedtwo bottles of thinner from the site. The robbery was not well-planned.
I do not accept this claim. While he committed the offence in his work apparel the defendant was minded to cover his face with a maskand wearing gloves to conceal his identity.
The starting point for sentence of bank robbery with firearms is 12 to 15 years’ imprisonment.
It is emphasised from time to time by the Court of Appeal that robberies of banks, jewellery shops and other establishments in possessionof large amounts of cash or valuable items are very serious offences and deterrent sentence is warranted.
In my view, robberies involving the use of inflammable liquid are equally heinous. The conduct of the offender might expose the publicto great danger.
The defendant threw highly inflammable liquid over the counter during the robbery. It created great potential risk to the public inthe bank.
While it may not be as heinous as using a firearm, the need for deterrence is equally warranted.
The fact that the defendant was located 13 years later would not be an aggravating factor. It would not assist the defendant either.
I take a starting point of 12 years’ imprisonment. I give him 4 years discount for his plea.
I sentence the defendant to 8 years’ imprisonment.