10.1 A stage hand arrested for possessing an accessory knife of 3cm, suspecting to be a false accusation for possession of offensive weapons

There were flash-mob protests across the city on 1st October, and many were arrested. A man working as stage crew was intercepted outside V City. Police found a mini knife from his backpack, and accused him with ‘Possession of offensive weapon in public place’. The case was sent to court at Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts on 17th October. According to the counselor, the man was wearing a backpack full of stage utensils on bike when he was intercepted when police.The man had explained the usage of each utensil and his occupation to the police officer. However, the officers insisted to charge him for possessing a 3cm mini knife. The magistrates ruled that there is strong prima facie evidence against this man. The case was postponed to 7th February.

The defendant, aged 22, was charged for possession of offensive weapons, accusing him to possess a 7cm long mini knife (3cm long blade) outside V City, Tuen Mun, on the 1st of October, 2019.

Police officer PC20410 Lam Ka-shing testified that on that day he was patrolling with two uniformed sergeants and five uniformed officers to prevent protesters from capturing the national flag in front of Tuen Mun Law Courts Building. At 11:50am, Lam patrolled to the location of the incident, while the defendant was riding a bike from a path beside the bus stop. The defendant was wearing khaki trousers, green short-sleeves shirt, black sleeves, a pair of wind-proof glasses, camouflage facecloth and cap, and an army green backpack. The defendant lowered his head and accelerated after a glance at the police. Lam thought that the defendant’s reaction was suspicious, thereby halting him. The defendant then got off the bike and walked towards the police and accepted the search willingly.

Lam found a cutter, three black facecloth, four pairs of goggles, eight plastic seals, a sealed yoga band, and a walkie-talkie. The defendant’s right strap was attached to a mini knife with a blade of 3cm. The defendant explained under discretion that the knife was a giveaway when he bought the backpack on Taobao six or seven years ago, that was just for decoration, while the cutter was a tool for dramas. Lam confirmed that there were not any special or social incidents happening at that time.

Lam admitted that the defendant explained briefly about the use of each item after being questioned by the defending barrister Lau Chun-on. He also agreed that the day was very sunny. Lau pointed out that the defendant was a stage hand, at the day the defendant was arrested, notebooks printed with the troupe’s name and ‘Privately produced tools’ were found in his backpack as well, which proved the defendant was a stage hand. Apart from that, the defendant cooperated with the police actively after being stopped.

Lau reiterated in his submission that the mini knife was out of the legal definition of offensive weapons. On top of that, the prosecution had no proof that the defendant was intended to assault others with the knife involved. Lau stated that the defendant wore the wind-proof glasses, camouflage facecloth and cap just because he was a stage hand, acting as the prop maker and the leader of the troupe simultaneously, he had to make up from time to time, so that he could not be tanned. In response to the officer’s saying that the defendant lowered his head right after his glance, Lau argued that the defendant was cycling on an inclined path, there were barriers along the path so that the defendant had to pay attention to the barriers by looking downwards. If the defendant was not willing to be searched, he absolutely could go towards a different direction, instead of the one that could meet those officers. Lau emphasized that when the defendant was being searched, the defendant had already explained the uses of the items, thereby repeating that all the items inside his backpack was just for dramas.

The magistrate Yip Kai-leung justified the prima facie against the defendant, and the defendant chose not to defend himself on the court. The case was postponed to the 7th of February to make the final decision of this case. The defendant was allowed to bait out with existing conditions.

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