Protester sentenced over failed bid to flee by boat - RTHK
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Protester sentenced over failed bid to flee by boat

2021-07-26 HKT 13:37
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  • Protester sentenced over failed bid to flee by boat
One of the 12 Hongkongers captured during an attempt to flee the SAR by speedboat has been given more time in detention after appearing in court over the escape bid and earlier protest-related offences.

Hoang Lam-phuc, 17, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, as well as attempted arson and possessing petrol bombs after he took part in an attack on Mong Kok Police Station on October 14, 2019.

District Court judge Frankie Yiu sent the teenager to a training centre, where he will remain for up to three years depending on his conduct.

Prosecutors described the plan to flee to Taiwan as "sophisticated and organised," adding that it involved a division of labour when it came to things like funding, transport and the provision of safe houses in Hong Kong.

Hoang admitted that in March 2020 he started researching how to get to Taiwan. He was on bail over the petrol bomb case at the time and had been ordered not to leave Hong Kong.

The court heard that he looked for information on Instagram and found people willing to help others flee the city. His HK$150,000 escape costs were covered by others, being as Hoang was a student and couldn't afford the fees.

He and 11 others left Hong Kong on August 23, 2020, but were intercepted by the Guangdong coastguard and detained.

Ten of the group were later jailed on the mainland, but Hoang and another teenager were sent back to Hong Kong on December 30, 2020, after prosecutors decided not to charge the pair because they were minors.

In mitigation, the defence counsel said Hoang only played a passive role in the escape plan, and had admitted it was "naive and irresponsible" to use such a "foolish" method to try to avoid his legal responsibility.

The lawyer added that the teenager had always treasured his studies, but the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted his school life.

"He was lost in his life. That's why under the influence of others, he joined the escape plan hoping to reset his life," the lawyer told the court.

But passing sentence, District Court Judge Frankie Yiu described Hoang's petrol bomb attack as irresponsible and said it was fortunate that no one was injured.

He said had the escape bid been successful, it would have been difficult to bring Hoang before the courts and that would have damaged the public interest.

The judge said at first he had considered a prison term, but decided on the training centre order given Hoang's guilty plea, cooperation with the police, and that he had already spent a year behind bars, on the mainland and after his return to Hong Kong.

As Hoang was escorted away from the courtroom, people in the public gallery shouted "hang in there" and he waved goodbye to them.