A former aviation employee has been sentenced to 80 hours of community service for making unauthorised changes to the customer account of the son of former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, local media reported.

Eastern Law Courts Building. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Lai Siu-wang, who was employed by Hong Kong Express Airways’ (HK Express) ground handling company, tampered with the account of Leung Chuen-yan – the son of Leung Chun-ying – and ordered 24 add-on meals and five extra luggage quotas in December 2019, which would have cost the younger Leung HK$3,375.

He also changed the account’s user name to “Leung Shit.”

Lai, who is now a part-time convenience store worker, earlier pleaded guilty to criminal damage. Appearing before magistrate Edward Wong at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Wednesday, the 24-year-old was given a community service order.

Leung’s credentials were uploaded by ground crew staff James Kwok, 22, to a WhatsApp group after Leung bought tickets for himself and his family on December 1, 2019. Lai, who was no longer working for the airline’s ground handling company at the time, learned about the account details indirectly.

Hong Kong Express Airways. File photo: GovHK.

Kwok, who is Lai’s co-defendant, was accused of obtaining access to computer with a view to dishonest gain as well as committing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice. The court will hear his plea on August 24.

‘Very funny’

Lai’s lawyer asked the court to sentence the defendant to 12 months’ probation, as recommended by the probation officer, since Lai cares for his mother who is ill with cancer.

The lawyer added that Lai already felt regret for committing an offence over a “prank” that he thought was “very funny.”

Leung Chun-ying. File photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

However, the magistrate said the defence’s reasoning did not justify a probation sentence. “Everyone has something else to do,” Edward Wong said.

Wong said the court had to consider the message sent to the society by the sentencing, which must reflect the serious nature of the case.

‘Sentence is too light’

Shortly after local media reported Lai’s sentencing, Leung Chun-ying wrote on his Facebook page asking where Lai currently worked, accompanied by a hashtag, saying “sentence is too light.”

In response to an enquiry from HKFP, the Judiciary on Wednesday said it would “not comment on individual cases,” adding that “The Judiciary respects the freedom of everyone in society to comment on judicial decisions.”

Earlier on Tuesday night, after the national security police arrested two civil servants suspected of publishing seditious social media posts, Leung published another post linking the arrests to Lai and Kwok.

“These cases have made people completely lost confidence in service providers in the society because of the problem of political stances,” Leung wrote, adding with a bracket that “[they] could be paramedics, or could be airline staffers.”

Leung said that neither he nor his family had received apologies from Lai, Kwok or HK Express.

Correction 12/08/2022: An earlier version of this article erroneously identified Lai Siu-wang as ground crew for Hong Kong Express. He was actually employed by the airline’s ground handling company. We regret the error.

Support HKFP  |  Code of Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.

Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.