A Hong Kong construction worker has been jailed for seven years for attempting to snatch an officer's shotgun after the latter was knocked to the ground by a flying kick during an anti-government protest two years ago.
Tse Shun-shing was the second defendant in a case related to the 2019 civil unrest to receive the maximum jail sentence that can be imposed at the District Court.
The 31-year-old had previously pleaded guilty to taking part in an unlawful assembly and assaulting an officer during the demonstration in Mong Kok on Oct 13, 2019, but denied trying to steal the policeman's Remington shotgun outside the Grand Plaza shopping centre that afternoon.
He was convicted in August of attempted robbery after a trial.
Passing sentence on Wednesday (Oct 20), Judge Adriana Noelle Tse Ching said the violent nature of the attempted robbery, the defendant's targeting of a police officer and his attempt to snatch away a lethal weapon meant that even the toughest penalty she could hand down would be insufficient.
She also sentenced Tse's co-defendant, 19-year-old student Chan Ka-chun, to up to nine months of correctional training for resisting a police officer in the same demonstration, after finding the young defendant needed more discipline.
In a widely circulated video, the officer in question, identified in court only as X, could be seen trying to detain Chan, who was being helped by an unidentified woman.
As the policeman grappled with the pair, a black-clad man leapt into the frame, landing a flying kick to the officer's chest and knocking him to the ground.
Tse, who was nearby, could then be seen charging at the officer and punching him in the head three times, before appearing to attempt to grab his weapon.
Both Tse and Chan were arrested in the vicinity several minutes later. The man who landed the kick is still at large.
Tse testified he had assaulted the officer with a view to causing grave injury because he was angry at police, but said he was unaware the item he had tried to pull away from the officer was his weapon.
The judge rejected Tse's defence after finding the officer honest and reliable.
Tse had previous brushes with the law, having been affiliated with triads and twice convicted of dangerous drug offences. On one occasion, he was ordered to serve 56 months behind bars for trafficking ketamine.
Tse's parents divorced when he was young. As a child, Tse was exposed to extortion by loan sharks as a result of his biological father's gambling habits.
Despite having been arrested in August 2019 on suspicion of weapons possession, Tse took to the streets to express his discontent with the government and police.
The first seven-year jail sentence handed down at the District Court in a protest-related case was for merchant Tang Wai-sum, part of a white-clad mob who attacked protesters and passengers at Yuen Long MTR station in July 2019.
Tang was convicted of two counts of rioting and two other wounding charges.
Meanwhile, Chan developed post-traumatic stress disorder after he was purportedly manhandled by police following his arrest during the Mong Kok demonstration, the court was told.
When Chan was first brought before a magistrate last year, his lawyers complained that officers had hit the student in the crotch inside a police van after his arrest.
Chan still faces charges arising from an unlawful assembly outside Tai Koo MTR station on Aug 11, 2019 and will return to Eastern Court next month.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.