Three people, including a teenager, have been jailed for up to four years for rioting for their involvement in clashes with the police in an anti-government protest at the New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin in July last year.
Lee Man-him, who was 16 at the time, was given a sentence of three years and four months, while two other defendants, 24-year-old waiter Leung Pak-tim and 51-year-old security guard Kung Chi-yuen, were each slapped with four-year prison terms.
In handing down the sentences, District Court judge Amanda Woodcock said CCTV footage showed the trio had taken part in a "brutal and savage" riot during which police officers were assaulted, adding that they'd lost all control and self-restraint.
She described the incident as a direct attack on law and order, and that the defendants had intended to injure and overpower police officers carrying out their duties.
Woodcock said while freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Basic Law, protesters cross the line when they use or threaten to use violence. "There is such a line to protect public order because society is prone to descend into anarchy if public order is not preserved," she said.
The judge also said in determining the length of the sentences, the court needed to consider the full extent of the broader violence, rather than the defendants' individual actions. She also said the sentences should deter others from committing the rioting offence in future.
The teenager pleaded guilty to one count of rioting while the two older defendants admitted to two counts.
The court heard that the trio were among a crowd of people who surrounded a police officer and attacked him with umbrellas and other objects at the shopping mall on the evening of July 14, 2019.
The second riot charge facing Leung and Kung stemmed from an attack on a second officer who came to his colleague's aid.
The judge noted that the first officer who came under attack had suffered serious injuries. She added that he had to withdraw from frontline duties, and his vision still remains impaired.