HKSAR v. SHUM WAI CHING

DCCC 551/2014

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

CRIMINAL CASE NO 551 OF 2014

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HKSAR
v
Shum Wai-ching

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Before: HH Judge Woodcock

Date: 7 November 2014 at 11.19 am

Present: Mr Keith Hotten, Counsel on fiat, for HKSAR
Mr John Patrick McNamara, instructed by Tangs Solicitors, assigned by the Director of Legal Aid, for the defendant

Offence: Trafficking in a dangerous drug (販運危險藥物)

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Reasons for Sentence

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1. Defendant, you have pleaded guilty to one charge of trafficking in a dangerous drug, contrary to section 4(1)(a) and (3) of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, Cap 134. The drugs involved are 16.64 grammes of a powder containing 11.9 grammes of ketamine. This ketamine was found in your handbag.

2. The facts of this case are very straightforward. On 17 March this year, the police had a search warrant for premises in Tai YuenEstate, Tai Po. You do not reside there but the police found you in the premises when the warrant was executed. You looked nervousand you were clutching your handbag. When the police searched your handbag, they found seven plastic bags containing the 16.64 grammesof a powder.

3. Your first response under caution was that the ketamine was for your self-consumption and sharing with friends. Later, in a video-recordedinterview, you made a full admission. You explained when you purchased the drugs, from whom and for how much. You explained whatyou had done during the day just before your arrest. You explained that you had paid $800 for the drugs. The market value has beenagreed at $2,400-odd. So I do have my doubts on the veracity of that admission. What is important is that your first response wasthat you had purchased drugs for yourself and to share with friends.

4. You are now 25 years old. You are not a woman with a clear record. You have only one previous conviction but it is for traffickingdrugs. In 2012, you were sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment in the Fanling Magistracy. You obviously did not learn your lessonthen. I have been told you have steady employment, in fact two jobs, but it was the stress of two jobs that led to a relapse. Ido not buy this explanation often used that stress led to drug taking. I am sure it is because of an addiction problem, a weak willpowerand probably in your case the influence of bad peers. If you do not address these issues, you will re-offend and likely be in andout of institutions.

5. I have had letters from yourself, family members, an employer and a social worker who has spent time with you. You are lucky youat this moment still have the support of your family. However in my experience of drug addicts’ history, that support will waneif you do not keep your promise to stay away from dangerous drugs.

6. Mr McNamara has said all he can on your behalf, and the guidelines of HKSAR v Hii Siew Cheng [2008] 3 HKC 323 applies here. The Court of Appeal says that where between 10 to 50 grammes of ketamine is trafficked, a starting point of between4 to 6 years would be appropriate; and if it is between 1 to 10 grammes, a 2-to-4-year starting point would be appropriate.

7. I would in normal circumstances in this case take a 4‑year starting point, but I accept that a portion of the dangerous drugswould have been for your own self-consumption. I have referred myself to the authority of HKSAR v Chow Chun Sang CACC 135 of 2011. The Court of Appeal held that a percentage can be reduced from the starting point where the court accepts thatpart of the dangerous drugs would be for self‑consumption. But I do not lose sight that there is a latent risk that a portion ofthe drugs intended for your own consumption may be given to or taken by others.

8. Defendant, please stand up. After considering that authority and the mitigation I have heard today, I will reduce that 4-year startingpoint by 25 per cent to reflect the portion of dangerous drugs that would be for self-consumption. Therefore, the starting pointwould become 3 years. You have pleaded guilty. You are entitled to a discount of one-third. After that discount is applied, forthis offence, you are sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment. You understand that sentence?

DEFENDANT: Understood.

A. J. Woodcock
District Judge