An 18-year-old history student at the University of Hong Kong was acquitted of the charge of possessing offensive weapons in a public place on Thursday.

Ng Cheuk-hang charge was related to violent clashes that broke out in February between police and protesters angry over the government’s clearing of street hawkers.

ng cheuk hang
Ng Cheuk-hang.

The morning after the protests, the police found a set of multitools, a pair of foldable pliers, and a foldable knife on Ng, who said he was there as a reporter for a History Society publication.

He was charged with possession of offensive weapons in a public place.

The case was heard at the Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

kwun tong court
Kwun Tong Law Courts.

Ng said he had the habit of carrying the tools around with him as a way to protect himself from his 7th uncle, who had threatened his family three years ago.

See also: 9 months in jail for Civic Passion’s Chan Pak-yeung over Mong Kok riot conviction

Deputy Magistrate Jolie Chao Tsz-kwan accepted Ng’s defence. Chao said Ng’s explanation was not unreasonable, and was backed up by evidence. Although there were discrepancies with previous testimony he had given, Chao said “he was only an 18-year-old university student, he might not be as eloquent as a trained lawyer with answers prepared for each question.”

mong kok fehd riot protest
At the scene of the Mong Kok unrest in February. File photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Chao also said the tools Ng was carrying were found folded inside his bag, which suggested that Ng had no intention of hurting anyone.

The prosecution was unable to prove that the defendant, Ng, had the intention to use to the tools to hurt people on the night of the protest, and so the magistrate found Ng not guilty.

Stanley is a Media and Communications graduate from Goldsmiths College in London. He takes particular interest in visual journalism, having produced photographic and video work on a number of social and political issues. He has also interned at the current affairs service of RTHK’s TV division.