A Hong Kong court has sentenced a man to four years and three months in prison for rioting and conspiracy to wound in connection with the mob attack on protesters and others at Yuen Long MTR station during the 2019 unrest.

Ching Wai-ming, 64, was handed the sentence at West Kowloon Law Courts Building on Thursday.

west kowloon court
West Kowloon Law Courts Building. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The defendant, who was among the white-clad, rod-wielding men behind the attacks at Yuen Long MTR station, was convicted of the two charges in September.

Recounting the defence’s plea on Thursday, Deputy District Judge Newman Wong said Ching took up odd jobs as a renovation worker, The Witness reported. He had spent long periods living in mainland China before the July 21 incident, coming to Hong Kong only when he had work.

Ching also has a criminal record with charges including triad crimes and criminal damage, but with the exception of a possession of offensive weapons charge from 2020, the rest dated back 20 to 30 years.

The defence added that Ching only took part in the “second part” of the attacks, having “come late and left early.”

Judge Wong said Ching played an active role in the attacks but did not lead them. Footage played during the trial earlier showed Ching attacking people with his bare hands and a cane at the station, and gesturing to other white-clad men to walk towards the platform.

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Bloodstains can be seen on the ground next to an exit of the Yuen Long MTR station. File Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

The judge set a starting sentence of four and a half years for the rioting charge, but deducted three months taking into account his age and the fact that he had acted “responsibly” during his defence.

For the conspiracy to wound charge, Wong sentenced him to a two-year jail term. The sentences will be served concurrently, meaning Ching will spend four years and three months in jail.

July 21 attacks

The Yuen Long mob attacks took place about a month into the protests that began in the summer of 2019. The unrest broke out over a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to mainland China to stand trial, but later ballooned into a wider anti-government movement.

On July 21, 2019, over 100 men – some with alleged links to organised crime – stormed Yuen Long MTR station, indiscriminately attacking civilians including some returning by train from a protest. Among the people injured were journalists, protesters, commuters and ex-lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting.

yuen long attack 721
Rod-wielding men entered Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, 2019. Photo: RTHK.

The incident was widely seen as a turning point in the unrest. Police were accused of colluding with the attackers and arriving at the scene only 39 minutes after initial reports. Uniformed officers walked away from the station as people called for help.

Ching is the eighth white-clad man to be sentenced over the attacks. Last July, a court sentenced seven of them to up to seven years after they were convicted.

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Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.