IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
1996, No. 630
Coram: Hon Litton V.-P., Mortimer and Mayo, JJ.A. in Court
Date of hearing: 21 May 1997
Date of judgment: 21 May 1997
J U D G M E N T
Mayo JA giving the judgment of the Court:
1. The applicant pleaded guilty to three charges under the Immigration Ordinance and one under the Crimes Ordinance in relation to his entry into Hong Kong on 11 August 1996 and his possession of blank Venezuelan passports and Venezuelan passportswhich had been unlawfully obtained. He was sentenced to a total of 4 years’ imprisonment and now seeks leave to appeal against thesentences which were imposed.
2. When he landed in Hong Kong on 11 August 1996 the applicant produced for inspection by an Immigration Officer a passport which purportedlyhad been issued by the Dominican Republic and a landing card containing details to the effect that he had been born in Santa Domingo.The officer suspected that the passport was a forgery and detained the applicant. The applicant then produced a Taiwanese passportin which it was stated that he had been born in Taiwan.
3. It subsequently transpired that the suspicions of the Immigration Officer were well founded and that the Dominican passport was indeeda forgery.
4. The possession of the forged passport was the subject of the first charge which was laid under s42(2)(b) of the Immigration Ordinance Cap 115. The false declaration concerning the applicant’s place of birth was the subject of the second charge which was laid unders42(1)(b) of the Ordinance.
5. The applicant was then searched. Six blank Venezuelan passports and four genuine passports were found on his person. The blank passportswere the subject of the third charge which was laid under s76(1) of the Crimes Ordinance and the genuine passports were the subject of the fourth charge.
6. The particulars of this charge were to the effect that contrary to s42(2)(c)(i) of the Immigration Ordinance the applicant had been in possession of unlawfully obtained passports.
7. In the plea of mitigation which was made to Her Honour Judge Beeson emphasis was placed upon the applicant’s co-operation and thefact that he had pleaded guilty to all the charges.
8. The explanation given by the applicant for having committed the offences was financial hardship which had been occasioned by thefailure of his business in Venezuela.
9. Very understandably the judge took a more serious view of charges 3 and 4. On the first two counts the judge adopted a starting pointof 3 years and passed sentences of 2 years on each charge to be served concurrently. On charges 3 and 4 the judge took cognisanceof the fact that the applicant was in the business of selling forged passports and adopting a starting point of 5 years’ imprisonmentimposed concurrent sentences of 3 years 4 months.
10. She also ordered that 8 months of the sentences on charges 1 and 2 should be served consecutively to the sentences imposed on charges3 and 4 thus making the total sentence of 4 years.
11. In the grounds of appeal which were lodged by the applicant he refers to the very difficult circumstances being experienced by hiswife and young children in Venezuela and the plight of his elderly parents who are dependent upon him. Also his wife has writtena letter to the court which eloquently makes the same points.
12. While having every sympathy for the difficult circumstances which are referred to this cannot justify us to interfere with the sentenceswhich were imposed. The judge was right to take a serious view of these offences and the sentences imposed were neither wrong inprinciple nor manifestly excessive. This application is accordingly dismissed.
Mr D.G. Saw QC, SACP & Mr S.L. Tam, CC for Crown Prosecutor
Liu Chien Hong – Applicant in person/present