Protest bullies get 10 to 15 months

Top News | Wallis Wang 5 May 2021

Three people who falsely imprisoned a woman they mistook for a plainclothes officer at a protest have been meted out sentences of from 10 to 15 months and ordered to each pay HK$10,000 in compensation to the victim.

The three - teacher Jessica So Wai-sin, 26, social worker Ng Yui-chit, 24, and cook Wong Tsz-lung, 32 - were convicted of false imprisonment and illegal assembly for stopping the 30-year-old woman when she was filming protesters in Mong Kok on July 7, 2019.

Wong was convicted of an additional count of indecent assault for touching the woman's breast.

All three defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court earlier heard that the three suspected the woman was an undercover officer and detained her against her will on Shantung Street. So grabbed the woman's right arm, while Ng obstructed her from leaving when she was chased by protesters.

District Court judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung yesterday sentenced Wong to 15 months' imprisonment because he was the leader and tried to insult the woman. He jailed Ng and So for 12 and 10 months, respectively.

Judge Lin also ordered the three to pay HK$10,000 each to the woman in compensation. They will be jailed for 14 more days if they fail to make the payment, he said.

Judge Lin described the case as one of "serious bullying."

Although the defendants did not plan to hurt the woman or cause severe bodily harm, their behavior could affect others because the incident happened in a busy shopping area, causing the woman serious humiliation.

Judge Lin said the case also involved hatred, intimidation and muzzling and that the court needed to punish behavior that could destroy the stability of society.

He said Ng and So both were in respected professions and could contribute to society if they had not committed the crime, criticizing them as "extremely self-centered persons."

Judge Lin criticized the three for asking the court for leniency while using justice as an excuse, regardless of social rules and the fact that other people have the right to access public facilities without being harassed. Their attitude and behavior were "exactly the same as the evil law and tyranny they condemned so much," he said.

He said the court must send a clear message that such self-righteous behavior, no matter how noble and altruistic its intentions may be, would be legally liable.

Although it might have been unwise for the woman to take pictures of protesters at the scene, she did not do anything illegal and there was no reason for others to humiliate her, judge Lin said, adding that even if she was an undercover officer, it was lawful for her to gather evidence.

He said the woman suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia and had nightmares. She is also now panicky and anxious and has lost trust in others.

The woman became a victim of doxxing and is unable to find a job. She has been also insulted after being recognized in the streets and has had to move twice within two years due to fear of being followed. She now lives in a hotel.

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