A court upheld a four-month prison sentence against a 73-year-old man who had used a fake Hong Kong identity card to be able to work as a security guard.
In seeking a deferred sentence for his client, barrister Cheng Huan on Tuesday said Shi Kau-yan is suffering from chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney problems, and the jail sentence would aggravate his condition.
Shi, who pleaded guilty to the charges, has been behind bars for more than a month.
But magistrate Li Wai-chi said the sentence was already very lenient as similar cases usually ended up with a 15-month jail term, Apple Daily reported on Wednesday.
Legislator Fernando Cheung voiced disappointment with the court ruling, noting that Shi had been forced to commit the offense to be able to continue working as there is no retirement protection for elderly people in Hong Kong.
After Shi’s arrest and the case was reported by media, his wife received nearly 300 letters of support from the public. Cheng submitted three of the letters to the court.
However, the magistrate said he had reservations about the relevance of the letters to the review of the case as one could easily produce 5,000 letters.
Li stressed that the court must act on principles of law, not public sentiments.
Cheng argued that the court should not stay in an ivory tower and the outpouring of support from the public should not be ignored.
Li acknowledged that Shi’s case was a social tragedy as a senior citizen still needed to work to earn a living, but using a fake document is a crime that cannot be tolerated.
Shi was found to have bought the fake Hong Kong ID from Shenzhen in 2008, when he was already 66. He used it to apply for a security personnel permit and was hired as a security guard for seven years, earning HK$540,000 in salaries.
Under existing regulations, security guards must retire upon reaching 65.
The police licenses department spotted discrepancies in Shi’s personal details during a database maintenance exercise in 2013.
Meanwhile, Shi’s 66-year-old wife has refused to accept donations from the public, saying she does not want to be a burden to others.
Since last month, members of the public have been sending her hundreds of cash coupons, Octopus cards and other donations.
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