Criminal Law — District Court acquits student of riot in relation to 31 August 2019 protests
The Defendant was accused of standing in a group of 4 protestors who allegedly threw petrol bombs at the police. The District Court found that despite the police’s oral testimony, video evidence did not support the allegation.
HKSAR v Ip Kwan Shing Kevin S. (葉君誠 )
|Before:||District Judge His Honour Frankie Yu|
|Date of Reasons for Verdict:||9 March 2021|
|Appearance:||Randy Shek, instructed by S.T. Cheng & Co., Solicitors, for the Defendant|
The Defendant was accused of standing in a group of 4 protestors who allegedly threw petrol bombs at the police. The District Court found that despite the police’s oral testimony, video evidence did not support the allegation. Moreover, whilst the Defendant had brought suspicion upon himself, he did not behave in any way which amounted to a breach of the peace. This is the third acquittal which Randy Shek has secured in the riot prosecutions arising from the protests on 31 August 2019.
The Defendant was arrested outside SOGO department store in Causeway Bay. At the time, he wore black clothing and protective gear. The Judge found that a riot involving about 300 protestors did take place there. The issue was whether the Defendant took part in the riot.
The arresting officer, a member of the Special Tactical Contingent (commonly known as “Raptors”), alleged that the Defendant stood next to protestors who threw petrol bombs at the police twice.
Randy Shek, Counsel for the Defendant, cross-examined the main prosecution witness by pointing out that no flames nor petrol bombs could be seen in the CCTV footage. Moreover, another police officer who testified said that no petrol bombs were thrown at the scene.
District Judge His Honour Frankie Yu did not find the main prosecution witness’s evidence reliable as the videos merely showed an unrelated petrol bomb landing near him just once, but not twice as alleged, and the Defendant did not stand with any protesters who threw petrol bombs at the police.
As for the Defendant, the Court took the view while he might have brought suspicion upon himself, he did not do anything that amounted to a breach of the peace.
On this basis, the Court held that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and acquitted the Defendant.
Prior to this case, Randy had secured acquittals in two other riot trials arising from the protests on 31 August 2019, namely, HKSAR v Chan Cho-ho and Others DCCC 9/2020 (acting for the 2nd Defendant) and HKSAR v Yu Tak-wing & Others DCCC 12/2020 (acting for the 4th Defendant who was also acquitted of possession of a petrol bomb and an extendable baton).
The verdict has been widely reported in the local press, including:
Randy is a highly experienced criminal advocate who is recognised for his long track record in handling public order offences and offences involving a civil liberties dimension. He is also experienced in a wide variety of other criminal matters including, but not limited to, drug offences, sexual offences, white-collar crime, and serious crimes including murder at all court levels. In addition to being recognised for his defence work, he is regularly instructed by the Department of Justice in criminal matters.
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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.