A pro-independence student has won an appeal over his conviction and sentence for possessing an imitation firearm.

Lau Hong, 17, was given an 18-month probation order last year, after he was arrested with an air gun near a protest in 2017.

When Lau was convicted, magistrate Veronica Heung did not accept the self-defence claim raised by Lau. Magistrate Heung said the case was serious as Lau possessed an imitation firearm, went to a crowded location, and claimed he would use it to assault others if he felt he was threatened.

Lau Hong. File

But High Court Judge Albert Wong wrote in his judgment that senior counsel Martin Lee, representing Lau, said that the magistrate was seemingly “copying and pasting” the law into her ruling.

“[I]t was difficult for people not to feel that regarding the magistrate’s expression… the situation was disturbing and made people suspect the reliability of the ruling,” Wong wrote.

File photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Wong also wrote that although the magistrate did not believe Lau’s claim of self-defence, she used many of Lau’s statements when making the ruling.

“Although she can do so legally… it would be more sound if the magistrate explained her thoughts and analysis in a more detailed way by [stating] why she objected to part of [Lau’s] statements, but [she] relied on another part of his statements,” Wong wrote.

Wong thus quashed Lau’s conviction and sentence.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.