Lawmaker Ted Hui avoids jail time in phone-snatching case

June 12, 2019 16:23
Ted Hui speaks to reporters on Tuesday after his sentencing over an April 2018 phone-snatching incident involving a Legco security officer. Photo: HKEJ

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who was in May found guilty on three charges in relation to a phone-snatching incident at the Legislative Council last year, has been spared jail time.

On Tuesday, the Eastern Magistrates’ Court sentenced Hui to 240 hours of community service plus a fine of HK$3,800, rather than giving a prison term.

The decision means Hui will be able to keep his seats in the Legislative Council and in the Central and Western District Council, of which he is a member, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The 36-year-old lawmaker was accused of grabbing the mobile phone of a female Security Bureau official before running away with it for a while in the Legco compound on April 24, 2018, when lawmakers were deliberating on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (Co-location) Bill.

Hui was said to have seized the phone in order to inspect its contents because he suspected that the government official was recording the movements of lawmakers and violating their privacy. He returned the phone later to another government official.

On May 27 this year, the court found him guilty on charges of common assault, obstructing a public officer and accessing a computer with criminal or dishonest intent.

In mitigation, the defense lawyer told the court on Tuesday that Hui is the breadwinner of his family and a jail term would make the life of his wife and children difficult, adding that a community service report proves he is genuinely remorseful.

The lawyer also noted that Hui had no criminal record or history of violent action, and argued that Hui is unlikely to commit such an offence in the future, RTHK reported.

Magistrate Cheng Lim-chi pointed out that Hui had pleaded not guilty, and that the court has no consideration as to whether a jail term would affect the defendant's ability to retain his Legco and district council seats or run for future elections.

However, he said he was accepting the community service report, which indicated that Hui is now remorseful for what he did to a certain extent.

Cheng then decided to order Hui to do 240 hours of community service over the charge of accessing a computer with criminal or dishonest intent and to pay a fine in relation to the other two charges.

After receiving the sentencing, Hui said he was grateful for the outcome, but said he will still discuss with his lawyer whether to lodge an appeal.

In other comments, the lawmaker stressed that his main focus now will be to launch an all-out effort to prevent the government's extradition bill from being passed in the Legco.

Wu chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, which has frozen Hui's membership after the 2018 phone-snatching incident, said the party's disciplinary committee will study the judgment before the central committee decides on further action.

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