Hong Kong’s High Court has sentenced a 21-year-old man to seven years and nine months behind bars, after he admitted to slashing a policeman’s neck during a protest in Kwun Tong in 2019.

Judge Andrew Chan handed the prison term to Hui Tim-lik on Monday, after the defendant pleaded guilty last week to one count of wounding with intent. The then-secondary six student was said to have jabbed a box cutter into police sergeant Wesley Leung on a footbridge leading to the APM mall on October 13, 2019.

High Court
High Court. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The assault took place as some 30 officers were walking towards the shopping centre after inspecting the MTR station. Hui suddenly ran up to the group from behind and cut the right side of Leung’s neck with a sharp object. The officer began bleeding profusely from a 3.5 cm-long wound on his neck that injured his vocal cords permanently, the court heard.

According to local media, Hui, who was 18 at the time of the offence, was originally charged with attempted murder, to which he pleaded not guilty. He admitted to the alternative charge of wounding with intent and prosecutors decided not to pursue the original charge but kept it on court file instead.

When Hui entered his plea last Tuesday, Hui said he had “made a big mistake” owing to his immaturity and foolishness. The defence cited a psychiatrist’s report saying that the defendant had autism spectrum disorder causing him to have weak self-control and to be easily swayed by the actions of others. But the argument was rejected by the court, which said letters from Hui’s teachers and girlfriend showed he was “normal” and not someone who breached the law due to his emotional state.

On the day of Hui’s offence, Hong Kong saw lengthy clashes between protesters and police in various districts, including Kwun Tong, Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan. Some protesters also blocked roads and vandalised shops.

Protests erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into the police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.” 

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.