A man who helped orchestrate an acid attack on a Hong Kong lawyer in 2009 was jailed for 25 months on Thursday after spending seven years on the run.
The District Court heard Chim Wai-kin, 41, asked his cousin to make arrangements that would stop prosecutor Neil Mitchell from attending court in Wan Chai, after a friend named “Ah Keung”offered a HK$100,000 reward.
His cousin gathered a group of men and threw diluted sulphuric acid in Mitchell’s face on October 29, 2009, putting the 52-year-old in hospital for three days.
Chim subsequently fled to mainland China while his conspirators were rounded up in Hong Kong. But he failed to escape capture by mainland Chinese authorities as officers in Urumqi, Xinjiang arrested him on October 27, 2016 and transferred him to Hong Kong police four months later.
He pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and told a probation officer that he wished to apologise to the victim. He also claimed that he had learned a hard lesson and stressed that he was only a middleman in the attack.
District judge Timothy Casewell noted in sentencing that the offence committed was very serious as it would destroy public confidence in the system.
“The court must acknowledge any attempt to commit this offence … is an extremely grave matter,” he said.
The judge said he considered the gravity of Chim’s conduct, his guilty plea and apology, as well as his personal circumstances to reach a starting point of sentence at 42 months’ imprisonment.
The jail term was then discounted by one-third to credit the guilty plea, and further reduced by three months to account for the time spent in mainland Chinese custody.
Ten men were prosecuted over the attack on Mitchell, with all but one convicted and sentenced to jail terms of up to 15 years.
Records show that Mitchell was prosecuting a money laundering and fraud case against solicitor Kevin Kong Hon-yui, who was jailed for six years in December 2009, when the attack took place.
The barrister was on a lunch break outside the District Court in Wan Chai when a brownish-black liquid – later confirmed to be diluted sulphuric acid – was thrown in his face, with more splashed on his shirt as he tried to wipe it off.
A paper cup, believed to have contained the fluid, was later found in a nearby rubbish bin.
Mitchell has since recovered from the injuries to his left cornea, ear and cheek.