Case Commentary

Criminal Law — Court of Appeal Clarifies Applicable Sentencing Principles for Trafficking in Substantial Quantity of Dangerous Drugs

On 6th February 2024, the Court of Appeal handed down judgement in HKSAR v. Lee Ming Ho, CACC 130/2019 in “an extremely serious example of the offence of trafficking in dangerous drugs involving over 34 kilogrammes of ‘Ice’ worth at the time more than HK$10.5 million, being brought into the jurisdiction from the Mainland by boat”, and allowed the appellant’s appeal against sentence.  The original sentence of 37 years and 4 months was reduced to a sentence of 33 years. The successful appellant was represented by Randy Shek.

The appeal against sentence was first abandoned by the appellant when he acted in person and the appeal was dismissed by the Court.  In granting the application to nullify the earlier abandonment, the Court of Appeal observed this case was “apparently the longest sentence to be passed in Hong Kong for this offence.”

After considering the sentencing principles enunciated in HKSAR v. Herry Jane Yusuph [2021] 1 HKLRD 290 and HKSAR v. Abdallah [2009] 2 HKLRD 437, the Court of Appeal confirmed that while the quantity of dangerous drugs involved remains the “primary determinant” for sentencing the trafficking offence, a more discretionary approach is allowed for sentencing judges to assess the offender’s role and culpability.  The Court also declared that apart from the sentencing bands set out in Abdallah, the supplementary guidelines set out therein no longer apply.

Trafficking in Dangerous Drugs contrary to section 4 of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, Cap. 134 can attract a maximum sentence of a fine of HK$5 million and life imprisonment.

Randy Shek was instructed by Messrs. Johnnie Yam, Jacky Lee & Co., assigned by the Director of Legal Aid.

Randy Shek

“Randy is a highly experienced counsel in the criminal law practice. He offers pragmatic and robust advice to clients and achieves favourable outcomes for them.” — Legal 500 Asia-Pacific 2023-2024: Regulatory, Investigations and Crime: Leading Juniors 

Randy’s main areas of practice include criminal law, human rights and civil liberties, and public law.  He also accepts instructions for civil cases involving injunctions, family law, and land law.

While he regularly receives instructions to prosecute on behalf of the Department of Justice, Randy is mainly a criminal defence counsel. Randy has a long and established track record for defending cases arising from high profile public order events and cases involving human rights and civil liberties dimensions. He is also particularly experienced in handling cases involving young offenders.

Moreover, he is also experienced in handling conventional crime, white collar crime, SFC investigations, and serious crime, including sexual offences and murder.  He has conducted trials and appeals in all court levels, both as led junior and on his own right.

Find out more from Randy’s profile.

This article was first published on 7 February 2024.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice and seeks to set out the general principles of the law. Detailed advice should therefore be sought from a legal professional relating to the individual merits and facts of a particular case. The photographs which appear in this article are included for decorative purposes only and should not be taken as a depiction of any matter to which the case is related. The views and opinions expressed in this article/material are solely those of the members authoring it and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Denis Chang’s Chambers, or of any other member or members of Denis Chang’s Chambers.