Teen convicted of criminal damage for vandalizing store

Monday, January 25, 2021

A 14-year-old boy was convicted of one count of criminal damage after he pushed products and a cash register inside a Best Mart 360 shop in Tin Shui Wai last year, as a magistrate slammed him for targeting shops irrationally.

Tuen Mun magistrate Kelly Shui today castigated the teen, who cannot be named, for vandalizing the shop because of groundless accusations, and said she did not understand what he was dissatisfied about.

The teen was remanded in custody and the case adjourned to February 5 for sentencing. 

The boy had pleaded not guilty to vandalizing a Best Mart 360 store inside the Tin Yiu Plaza in Tin Shui Wai on February 24 last year. 

Shui said the defendant's body shape, shoes and clothes found in his backpack were the same as the protester who was filmed by a surveillance video inside the shop.

Although the boy had claimed he was carrying the backpack for another teenager as it was heavy, Shui said his claim was not trustworthy.

She said the backpack only contained ordinary clothes so it could not be too heavy.

Shui also said the boy’s testimony was inconsistent as he constantly changed his statement under cross-examination, adding he was lying.

“You need to remember that many people are working very hard to run the business...what you have done was wreaking havoc, which costs [you] nothing, you could vandalize the shop by waving your hands [and push the products off the shelf,]” Shui said.

“I don’t understand what you were unsatisfied about. You caused inconvenience to residents because of a groundless accusation, and you should think whether you did the right thing,” she added.

The defense told the court that the boy is a filial, introverted and innocent child who suffers from autism, depression and epilepsy since he was little.

He could not make friends with his classmates until he was admitted to a middle school for children with special needs, the defense said.

The boy was easy to get along with and would like to offer help to his classmates, the court was told. He also helped distribute anti-epidemic supplies and hopes to become a barista in the future.

But Shui refuted their claims, saying she did not feel the boy was autistic or intellectually disabled when he answered questions in court.

She also said the teen's medical report showed his illness is well-controlled.

His co-defendant, another 14-year-old boy, had earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal damage and was sent to a detention center.

Best Mart 360 was under fire during the anti-fugitive bill movement as protesters said the company has links to the mainland.

They also found the chairman and founder of the snack-shop chain, Lin Tsz-fung, is from Fujian and believed the company allegedly had ties to “Fujian gangs” that attacked protesters in North Point in August 2019.