Student gets probation for carrying air gun

Local | Staff reporter 13 Sep 2018

A 16-year-old student found carrying an air gun near a Legislative Council protest site was yesterday put on probation for 18 months.

Lau Hong, a former member of pro-independence student group Studentlocalism, was convicted of possession of imitation firearm by an Eastern magistrates' court.

He was intercepted by police at the junction of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road in Admiralty on December 12, about 50 meters from where the pro-democracy camp was protesting Legco's changing of its rules of procedures to curb filibustering.

A police officer found the 20-centimeter air pistol with a loaded magazine, and a bottle of 1,000 yellow plastic pellets in his bag.

He was sentenced after magistrate Veronica Heung Shuk-han considered reports, which recommended him for 18 months' probation.

During the period, he will have to attend community events arranged by a probation officer and undergo counseling. In mitigation, the defense said Lau performed well in school, was disciplined, and had no previous criminal record.

The secondary school he attended has reserved a seat for him to study Form six, to facilitate him taking Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examinations.

Lau's teachers and classmates submitted a letter of mitigation, with the hope the magistrate would sentence him to probation, considering he had spent spent three weeks of detention at Pik Uk Correctional Institution in Clear Water Bay.

In sentencing, Heung said Lau had committed a serious crime, as he carried an air gun to where crowds had gathered, and where he could use it to shoot at people if he felt in danger.

However, she took the defendant's young age into consideration, and noted he was ignorant of laws and remorseful after the incident, and is unlikely to reoffend.

Lau had testified that he carried the air gun all the time, for fear he could be attacked for supporting Hong Kong independence.

At the time of his arrest, he was carrying with him stickers proclaiming "Hong Kong is not China."

He said he had no intentions of harming anyone or causing any trouble, and explained he had only taken part in the protest so he could take pictures.

Last November, the secondary five student displayed a pro-independence banner during a photo opportunity with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

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