The notorious “King of Robbery”, Yip Kai-foon, who masterminded a series of armed robberies of jewellery shops in the 1980s has died in hospital.
The 55-year-old was serving a 41-year term in the maximum security Stanley Prison for possession of firearms and escaping from custody.
In one of the most daring acts, Yip and his gang, armed with machine guns, engaged in a gunfight with the police on the streets of Kwun Tong in 1991. He had escaped from jail two years earlier and managed to evade capture after the running battle.
Correctional Services said Yip suffered from cancer and was taken into hospital on April 1 when his condition worsened.
His death has been reported to the police and an inquest will be held by the Coroner's Court.
Yip, who was born in Haifeng in Guangdong province, started his cross-border raids in the mid 1980s, leading a gang armed with AK47s which targeted jewellery shops across Kowloon. They fired at will and got away with stones worth millions of dollars.
But Yip was caught in a police sting operation in 1984 and arrested with two guns which were used in the armed raids. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Yip made even more news with his sensational escape from Queen Mary Hospital in 1989, where he had been taken after pretending to have a stomach ache. He tricked his guards and got away after hijacking a private vehicle.
He continued to make forays into Hong Kong with his armed gang to rob jewellery stores. During a raid on a shop on Nathan Road in 1993, a passerby died after being shot by the gang.
Yip was finally caught in 1996 after a gun battle with police in the Kennedy Town area. He was hit in the spine and left paralysed from the waist down, spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Yip was sentenced to 41 years in prison on March 10, 1997. He later expressed remorse for his crimes in a 2010 letter to an evangelical magazine.
His notorious exploits provided the inspiration for the film "The King of Robbery". Trivisa, the movie which took the top prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards earlier this month, also has a character many say was inspired by Yip.