Dr. Stephen Chow Heung-wing, 63, founder of beauty clinic chain DR Group, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Monday by the High Court for causing the death of a female customer after she received a recommended treatment, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
A technician at the clinic, Chan Kwun-chung, 32, received a 10-year jail sentence in the case of manslaughter by mistake in the process of beautification.
Mrs. Justice Judianna Barnes said the case was a first in Hong Kong, there being no other case for reference.
The duo were found guilty by a jury last Tuesday, while a third defendant, Dr. Elaine Mak Wan-ling, who also administered the treatment, was granted bail after a jury failed to reach a verdict. The prosecution intends to seek a retrial for Mak.
The incident took place in 2012, when a 46-year-old woman, Chan Yuen-lam, died of septic shock and multiple organ failure a week after receiving the so-called cytokine-induced killer (CIK) treatment from DR Group.
Court records show that Chan’s blood was removed at the clinic and then processed before it was injected back into her body.
Another woman also testified earlier that she lost both feet and several fingers after the group injected her with a fluid as part of the beauty treatment in the same year.
The judge described Chow as a “money-grabbing individual” who paid little regard to the safety of his customers.
That Chow had claimed several times that he was only an investor of the group showed he has not been remorseful of the blunder he should be responsible for, and that he had asked customers to sign a disclaimer suggested he wanted to shirk his responsibility, Barnes said.
She said Chow had recommended the therapy to customers simply because he wanted to beat competitors, while its therapeutic efficacy was in fact not confirmed at that time.
As such, Barnes believes the sentences she gave were reasonable as they were intended to reflect the sorrow and anger of the victim’s family and to show the disgust and abhorrence felt by society.
She said she could not accept the letters of leniency presented by Chow’s family and associates to the court, noting that they were only aimed at making Chow look like a good person but could not cover the fact that he had indeed disregarded human life.
Lawmaker Alice Mak Mei-kuen from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, who has been helping the victim’s family, said the heavy punishment means that justice is finally served.
Mak also called on consumers to be very cautious when receiving beautification therapies, and urged the government to enhance supervision of operators in the industry.
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