A transport worker has been set free by an appeals court after he served 33 months in prison over a robbery case that he was in fact not involved, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Chan Wai-sze, 39, had earlier been sentenced to eight-and-half years in prison after being charged with conspiring to a robbery along with a person named Lam Hing, 67, who was sentenced to six years.
Lam told the police after being put in jail that Chan was an accomplice, claiming that Chan told him who the target should be.
However, Chan told the court that the allegation was false. The police, meanwhile, failed to provide phone records between him and Lam before a trial began.
Still, Chan was convicted and sentenced to a jail term.
He then lodged an appeal. It was during the appeals process that court officials discovered that the police failed to provide phone records to the defendant before the trial began.
Following a demand by Chan’s lawyer, the Department of Justice later presented phone call records.
The records showed that there was no contact between Chan and Lam when the latter committed the crime.
The department, which has now agreed to drop the charge against Chan, said the reason the phone records were not shown to Chan earlier was because the police officer in charge of the case did not follow the procedures to file them and did not notify his successor before he was transferred to another post.
The judge ruled that failure to reveal the phone records to the defendant jeopardized the credibility of the prosecution and that Chan should be released immediately.
Chan’s lawyer Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a former member of the Independent Police Complaints Council who teaches law at the University of Hong Kong, said there was clear neglect of duty on the part of the police.
He urged the force to study the matter carefully to prevent a relapse of similar blunders.
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