A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 32 months in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to rioting in Tseung Kwan O on August 5, 2019, during the anti-extradition bill protests. The defendant’s jail term was reduced owing to health reasons.

Jason Tam appeared in front of Judge Frankie Yiu at the District Court. Tam faced one count of rioting and one count of damaging property which belonged to the Hong Kong Police Force.

district court
Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

He pleaded guilty to the rioting charge, and the latter charge will be kept on court file, InMedia reported.

According to the prosecution’s case, Tam threw a brick at the Tseung Kwan O police station and broke a window at the early hours of August 5, 2019, as a group of protesters surrounded the area.

Tam was arrested by a plain-clothes police officer who followed him to the lobby of the residential building that the defendant was living in.

Hong Kong saw a series of pro-democracy protests and unrest in 2019 sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill.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.” 

‘Pro-active’ participant

Yiu, when handing down his ruling on Monday, said that while the riot did not cause any serious casualties, the police station was seriously damaged, the Witness reported. However, the judge accepted that Tam did not take a leading role in the incident, but said that the defendant proactively participated in the brick throwing.

Frankie Yiu
District Court Judge Frankie Yiu. Photo: Judiciary.

During mitigation, Tam’s representative said that his client committed the offence impulsively, and that the 24-year-old said in a mitigation letter that he would take responsibility for this own actions, InMedia reported.

The defence also said that Tam was born with congenital megacolon, and had the entirely of his large intestine and a part of his small intestine removed two weeks after birth.

As a result, Tam has incontinence issues, and has to go to the bathroom every two hours, the defence said. Thus, the defendant would face immense obstacles in jail, and therefore it was hoped that the judge would reduce the prison term.

Yiu reduced the starting point of the sentence to three years and nine months from 4.5 years after considering the fact that Tam did not have a previous record, pleaded guilty, and had special physical circumstances.

The judge eventually sentenced Tam to 32 months in prison after applying a further deduction for pleading guilty. The defendant was also ordered to pay HK$3,000 in compensation.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.