IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
MAGISTRACY APPEAL NO. 826 OF 1998
(On appeal from SPC 4509 OF 1998)
Coram: Deputy Judge Lugar-Mawson in Court
Date of hearing: 18 December 1998
Date of judgment: 18 December 1998
J U D G M E N T
1. The appellant was convicted by Mr Ian Candy, Permanent Magistrate, on her own plea on 25 July of this year of an offence of possessinga false instrument and an offence of escaping from a detention centre. The false instrument was a Hong Kong Immigration Departmentrecognisance form in the name of another woman onto which she had affixed her own photograph.
2. The appellant, who is a Vietnamese refugee, has been kept in a detention centre since her arrival here. She has twice committed anoffence of possession of a forged Vietnamese refugee card and twice committed an offence of escaping from a detention centre.
3. Mr Candy, who dealt with this case, obviously thought that as these were her third offences of a similar nature, heavier punishmentsthan that which had been passed on her in the past were justified. He therefore imposed a sentence of six months’ imprisonment forthe offence involving the false Immigration Department document and three months’ imprisonment for the escape from the detentioncentre. As each was a distinct offence he ordered that the appellant serve them consecutively. He was perfectly correct in principlein doing so.
4. Before me this morning, the appellant, who has been in Tai Lam Prison since her conviction on 25 July, told me that her husband,who returned to Vietnam some time ago, was recently involved in a fatal accident there and has died from his injuries. She tellsme also that she has had discussions with the Immigration Department and the appropriate Vietnamese authorities about her own returnto Vietnam. She begs me, as an act of compassion, to reduce her sentences so that she can return to Victoria Detention Centre whereher application for repatriation can be properly processed.
5. In no way could Mr Candy’s sentences said to be manifestly excessive or in any way contrary to principle. However, this is a casewhere I think I am justified in exercising some compassion. As the appellant has been in prison for effectively five months now and,to a large extent, has served her full sentences, I am allowing her appeal to the extent that, in substitution for Mr Candy’s sentences,I sentence her to serve such term of imprisonment as will permit her release today, so that she can then be taken to Victoria DetentionCentre where her repatriation application can be processed.
Mr Gary LAM, Government Counsel, for HKSAR
Tran-Thi Thuy Ngan, Appellant in Person