Criminal law- possession of forged document – sentence – where document is an identity card, deterrent factor not irrelevant- 15 months’imprisonment appropriate.
BETWEEN CHAN SHAU-KIN AND ________ BETWEEN CHAN WAI-HUNG AND __________ BETWEEN LUNG SHEK-KUEN AND ________ BETWEEN AND ________
Coram: Sir Alan Huggins, V.-P., Yang & Barker, JJ. A.
Date of hearing: 4 January 1982
Date: 4 January 1982
J U D G M E N T
Sir Alan Huggins, V.-P. :
1. There are before us this morning four cases of a similar nature. These Appellants were all convicted of possession of forged identitycards. The fourth man was also convicted of resisting arrest and sentenced to an extra 14 days’ imprisonment, but we think thereis no ground for interfering with that sentence.
2. Counsel has suggested that the reason why these cases have come before us is that guidance is sought as to the proper sentence forpossession of forged identity cards by illegal immigrants. That probably is the reason why the cases were referred to us, but itwould be helpful in future cases where a reference is made to the Court of Appeal that a reason should be expressly stated by thejudge.
3. Miss Leong has conceded that it is difficult to say that the sentences imposed on her three clients are excessive. A fortiori shemust concede they are not manifestly excessive. What she submits is that they are in effect wrong in principle in that too much weighthas been attached to the deterrent factor. The learned magistrate gave very careful consideration to these cases, and has set outhis reasons in full. He points out that the number of person found in possession of forged identity cards has risen from a trickleto a flood, and it is apparent that to him the deterrent factor was an important factor. He has emphasized the strain put upon theeconomy of Hong Kong by the influx of illegal immigrants. That is relevant because illegal immigrants require an identity card beforethey can obtain employment. They cannot obtain identity cards lawfully and therefore must resort to forgery.
4. We see no reason at all to differ from the opinion of the learned magistrate. The deterrent effect of a sentence of imprisonmentin such a case must be of importance. It is not merely the unlawful entry into Hong Kong which is to be punished: that may eventuallybe dealt with by repatriation: what is being punished is the resorting to forgery. That is a further and serious offence and thelaw-abiding members of this community must be protected against illegal immigrants who resort to forgery. We do not think that thedeterrent factor is of so little importance as has been submitted. Once it becomes apparent to those who are contemplating unlawfulimmigration into Hong Kong that the obtaining of forged identity papers will be severely punished, we think that the effect willinevitably be to make people think again before coming to Hong Kong. They will no doubt bear in mind that while they are imprisonedthose of their families in China, for whose benefit they thought they were coming, will in fact suffer more, for the illegal immigrantwill be unable to earn anything to remit to China. When that is appreciated they will, as I say, tend not to run the risk of comingto Hong Kong in the first instance.
5. The sentences have risen from six months on average to 15 months on average for this offence, because of the increase in the numbers.The magistrates are the persons best able to judge what is required to deal with this situation, and if they think that a sentenceof 15 months’ imprisonment is appropriate we certainly are not prepared to disagree with them.
6. We are satisfied that these sentences were proper and the appeals are dismissed.
4th January 1982.
Miss J. Leong (D.L.A) for Appellants in Cr. Appeal No. 934, 967 and 976 of 1981.
Appellant in Cr. Appeal No. 977 of 1981 in person.
Alderdice for Crown/Respondent.