A mainland undergraduate student of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was handed a fine after she was convicted of theft for taking cash from an automated teller machine left behind by another person, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.
Hong Yue, 22, was found to have taken HK$4,900 from the machine on the HKUST campus which was left behind by another ATM user on Feb. 5.
Hong, a third year college student, admitted to the theft after her arrest. She was fined HK$1,000 and ordered to return the stolen money.
Magistrate Ernest Michael Lin said a binding over order was usually given for ATM theft cases.
He cited the case of a foreign company manager who was handed such an order by the Department of Justice (DOJ) after his personal lawyer submitted a written request. The manager was convicted of taking HK$500 from another ATM user.
Lin said he is concerned with the prosecution standards of the DOJ, adding that it would arouse suspicion from the public if the treatment of similar cases differs each time. He said the handling of the case must be reasonable, fair and apparent to the public.
DOJ senior prosecutor Polly Wan said the foreign manager was handed a binding over order not because he hired a lawyer to make a plea. She explained that such requests would be considered on equal footing, regardless of who the applicant is.
Wan explained that as the amount of money involving the HKUST student was substantial, there was no special reason to consider a binding over order.
But Lin said the defendant, who has no criminal record prior to the case, admitted to her crime upon arrest and was willing to return the money to the owner.
He questioned the DOJ’s decision and asked what special factors would be required to consider a binding over order.
The DOJ said binding over orders are given in consideration of the nature and severity of the crime, public interest and the impact on the victims.
Wan said the case was apparently more serious and prosecution was therefore made accordingly.
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