CRIMINAL CASE NO. 336 OF 2012
COURT: The defendant has pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in a dangerous drug, namely 0.82 kilograms of a mixture containing0.5 kilograms of heroin hydrochloride.
It is, unfortunate that the facts in this case are very similar to many other cases I have heard recently with nationals from Tanzania.The defendant arrived on 25 March this year from Tanzania, and because she was suspected of concealing drugs inside her body, shewas taken to a hospital, and eventually discharged a total of 84 pellets. The 84 pellets contained the drugs which are the subjectmatter of the charge.
When cautioned, the defendant said that she swallowed the drugs in a hotel in Tanzania for a reward of US$4,000.
The drugs, upon being seized, were assessed by the authorities to have an estimated retail value of HK$642,880.
The defendant is aged 37, and I am told has a clear record in Hong Kong. In mitigation, Mr Dunn pointed out the poverty of the defendantand the sad life she has led in being the victim of an abusive husband, and that she and her child both had contracted the AIDS virusfrom her philandering husband.
In mitigation, Mr Dunn said that the defendant needed money in order to get drugs to cure her son, and these drugs are expensive,and that is why she then agreed to traffic in dangerous drugs.
Unfortunately, this is a story that is often heard in this type of cases. The court has no way of knowing if this is actually true.The defendant herself says she has AIDS, but according to the antecedents statement, she never mentioned this to the Customs officers.
Be that as it may, the courts in Hong Kong are very tough on drug trafficking. Because of the position of Hong Kong, we have a largenumber of travellers from all over the world, and for every drug trafficker who enters our border, there must be hundreds who goundetected. Drug trafficking is an evil which causes great harm to Hong Kong society and citizens, and the more we catch the peoplecarrying drugs, the more that come to Hong Kong.
It is inevitable that serious sentences should be visited on drug traffickers, and the plight of the defendant, even if it were true,is offset by the evil of this trade.
The sentencing guidelines for trafficking in dangerous drugs was laid down in 1990 in the case of Lau Tak Ming  2 HKLR 371, where the Court of Appeal recommended that for trafficking in between 400 to 600 grammes of heroin hydrochloride, a sentence of15 to 20 years’ imprisonment is warranted after trial.
In this case, the defendant was trafficking in 0.5 kilograms of heroin hydrochloride, which is 500 grammes, thus meriting a startingpoint sentence of 17 to 17½ years. I will adopt the lower of that range, 17 years, and because the defendant was importing the drugsinto Hong Kong, I add 1 year, so the total sentence is 18 years’ imprisonment. I give her the benefit of her plea, which is one-thirdoff, and so the defendant will go to prison for 12 years.