HKSAR v. WONG CHE-HAU

HCCC 502/2015

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE

CRIMINAL CASE NO 502 OF 2015

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HKSAR
v
WONG Che-hau

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Before: Hon Zervos J in Court

Date of Hearing: 19 February 2016
Date of Sentence: 19 February 2016

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REASONS FOR SENTENCE
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1. The defendant has pleaded guilty to trafficking in a dangerous drug and has been committed to this Court for sentence.

2. The defendant was intercepted at Lo Wu Control Point when entering Hong Kong on 17 June 2015 and found to have in a bag that hewas carrying a quantity of 989 g of a crystalline solid containing 971 g of methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly known as Ice. Following his arrest and caution, he admitted that the substance he was carrying was Ice which he said had been given to him bya male known as “Ah Man” at Lowu Commercial City. He said he was promised $4,000 to bring the drugs to Hong Kong to deliverthem back to “Ah Man”. In a later interview, he said that he was forced to commit the offence because he owed money to a loanshark. The retail value of the drugs seized as at the date of the offence is estimated at $385,710.

3. The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge of trafficking in the quantity of Ice at the earliest opportunity in the Magistrate’sCourt and he is therefore entitled to a one third discount to his sentence for his timely plea.

4. There is little, if anything, that can be meaningfully advanced on his behalf by way of mitigation. He is 61 years of age withan extensive criminal record spanning from 1970 to 2006. There was an offence in 2014 for possession of a prohibited poison butI am told by Mr Yeung Shak Nung, counsel for the defendant, that he sustained serious injuries as a result of gas explosion in 2011and this offence relates to medicine he purchased to alleviate the pain that he was suffering as a result of it. The previous convictionsrelate to an array of offences involving mainly violence, drugs and gambling. He has a number of previous convictions relating todrugs, 12 for possession of drugs and 1 for trafficking in drugs in 1997 for which he received a sentence of 3 ½ years’ imprisonment. He has been ordered to attend a drug addiction treatment centre on two occasions in 1977 and 1981. I am told that he does not havea drug addiction. At the time of his arrest, I am told that he was living alone and unemployed. He presents as a sad figure whohas no family except for an elderly mother who is in a home. He said he owed money to loan sharks and that was why he got involvedin this offence. I am told that the sum involved was $5,000 and this was to be set off for making the delivery. However, the factremains that he made this delivery of drugs with his eyes wide open and knew that he was committing a serious crime.

5. According to the sentencing tariff laid down in AG v Ching Kwong Hung [1991] 2 HKLR 125 and HKSAR v Capitania [2004] HKCU 926 for a quantity of Ice of over 600 g a sentence should range from 18 years upwards. The question of an appropriatesentence for very large quantities of Ice was addressed by the Court of Appeal in HKSAR v Tam Yi Chun [2014] 3 HKLRD 691, where the Abdallah guidelines were applied to very large quantities of Ice. The tariff now fixed for a quantity of Ice of 600 to 1,200 g is 20 to 23years’ imprisonment. This decision was handed down on 9 June 2014 and the tariffs set out apply to all those persons who committhe offence of trafficking in Ice from that date.

6. Taking into account the tariff guidelines, I will adopt a starting point for the narcotic content involved of 21 years’ imprisonment. There is also an international element for bringing drugs into Hong Kong that warrants an enhancement of the sentence which I willdo so by 1 year. Accordingly, I adopt a starting point of 22 years’ imprisonment which I reduce by one third for the defendant’splea of guilty to 14 years and 8 months’ imprisonment.

(Kevin Zervos)
Judge of the Court of First Instance
High Court

Ms Grace Chan, SPP of Department of Justice, for HKSAR

Mr Yeung Shak Nung, instructed by CMK Lawyers, assigned by Director of Legal Aid, for the defendant