MA WING-FAI v. THE QUEEN

CACC000131/1971

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF HONG KONG

(APPELLATE JURISDICTION)

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 131 OF 1971

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BETWEEN:
MA Wing-fai Appellant
and
THE QUEEN Respondent

Coram: Rigby, C.J.

Date of Judgment: 12th March, 1971.

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JUDGMENT

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1. The appellant is aged 24. He was brought before the magistrate on a charge of wounding. He pleaded guilty to that charge. Havingpleaded guilty to that charge the prosecuting officer then informed the court that there were a number of other charges pending againsthim in connection with offences of robbery and he accordingly asked for the accused to be remanded pending an investigation of thosecharges. The magistrate accordingly made an order that he be remanded in police custody. When the matter next came before the courtthe appellant pleaded guilty to nine charges of robbery. He was sentenced to a total of 15 months’ imprisonment on those charges.

2. Turning now to the charge of wounding to which he had earlier pleaded guilty; he was sentenced in respect of that offence to 12 strokesof the cane. The facts of that case appeared to be that the appellant had a quarrel with the complainant over a game of mahjong theywere then playing on certain premises. The appellant had lost $8 to the complainant and was apparently unwilling to pay and thatwas the cause of the dispute which arose between them. It would appear that the appellant then left the premises and armed himselfwith a chopper with which he waited outside until the complainant came out. The appellant then assaulted the complainant, cuttinghim on the thigh with the chopper. Unfortunately, there is nothing on the record to indicate the nature and extent of that injuryother than the bare statement that the complainant was treated at a polyclinic and then discharged. It would have been more thanhelpful if there had been some medical evidence as to the exact nature and extent of the injury. It was upon those facts that theappellant was sentenced to 12 strokes of the cane.

3. For my part I doubt whether it can serve any useful purpose to impose corporal punishment upon a young person who is about to embarkon a fairly substantial prison sentence. It is certainly arguable that the effect of corporal punishment upon such a person is simplyto embitter him against society and afford him ample opportunity, from the outset of his period of incarceration to brood over thetreatment he has received. I doubt whether corporal punishment in such circumstances can serve any useful purpose. There may wellbe cases where robbery, with attendant circumstances of unnecessary and brutal violence, or cases of vicious sexual assaults, havetaken place, where corporal punishment can be properly coupled with a substantial term of imprisonment, but I am not satisfied inthis case, as I say, that any useful purpose would be served by the imposition of corporal punishment, or that it is a proper casefor corporal punishment, to be followed by a substantial prison sentence. This appeal will accordingly be allowed to the extent thatthe order for corporal punishment will be set aside and in lieu thereof a sentence of three months’ imprisonment will be imposed;that sentence will run consecutively to the sentence of fifteen months’ imprisonment already imposed.

Representation: