Star tutor could face a more serious charge

Top News | Sophie Hui 15 May 2019

Star tutor Weslie Siao Chi-yung could see his charge upgraded to a more serious one after he was caught in the catch-all computer offense controversy.

The prosecution is seeking to alter his charge to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office yesterday when Siao and wife Tsai Ying-ying, along with two other defendants, appeared in West Kowloon Magistrates' Court.

The defense said it was only informed of the change on Friday, adding the extent of the proposed amendment is quite significant.

As a result, they need time for consideration and to explain the charges to their clients.

Acting principal magistrate Ada Yim Shun-yee adjourned the case to June 18.

Siao, 42, a former Chinese language tutor at Modern Education who was known to students as Siu Yuen, was originally charged with two counts of conspiracy to obtain access to a computer with dishonest intent, along with two other tutors, Cheung Kwok-kuen and Ng Wang-leung, both 43.

Siao and Tsai, 33, were jointly charged with one count of obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent.

But the Court of Final Appeal last month ruled that the offense should not cover people using their own computers when referring to a case involving primary school teachers leaking school exam papers.

So now the prosecution is seeking to amend the charge to two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office against Siao, Cheung and Ng, while Tsai faces one count of misconduct.

The four allegedly used smartphones to send and receive questions and confidential information that were in the 2016 and 2017 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Chinese language examination.

Tsai, who was also a Chinese language tutor at Modern Education, was an invigilator at the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority in 2017, while Cheung and Ng were former oral examiners for the authority.

In court yesterday, the defense said the amended charges involved leaking exam information, adding it believes it should fall under section 15 of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority Ordinance.

It is also a summary offense, with the time limit for prosecution only six months.

The defense questioned the prosecution's request to amend the charges as the six-month time limit has passed.

Anyone who commits the offense of "access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent" is subject to a maximum penalty of five years in prison on conviction upon indictment.

But the maximum sentence of the misconduct in public office charge is a seven-year prison sentence.

For the secrecy requirements under the Hong Kong examinations ordinance, anyone who contravenes the law is liable on conviction to a fine of HK$25,000 and imprisonment of six months.

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