Police Changes Testimony Repeatedly on Court Over Case on Alleged Traffic Cone Blockade; 19 Yo Student Found Not Guilty
On 2 November 2019, a 19 years old male student was arrested in Causeway Bay for public disruption after allegedly using traffic cones to block a road during a demonstration assembly in Victoria Park. During trial on 17 June 2020, police officer Law Yat Wai (romanisation) who captured the student changed his testimony multiple times, including that the black-clad student threw a traffic cone onto Leighton Road (Westward) and vehicles were stopped as a result, but after reviewing footage, he admitted none of the vehicles actually stopped, and agreed with defense counsel that his observation was inaccurate. He also could not recognise the suspect on court. Prosecution counsel later decided to not provide further evidence. Ruling that defense has no case to answer, suspect was discharged immediately.
The judge explained that the critical factor for this case is whether the behaviours of defendent Hui Lung Lok caused disruption or danger to vehicles on the road. But as the police officer stated, the black-clad protester could have been the defendant, but when cross-examined by defense counsel he admitted he did not know where the traffic cone was thrown at, and according to CCTV footage, while there was an object on the sidewalk, the object did not necessarily block the road, thus it was determined that there was no case to answer.
The first witness of prosecution counsel was officer Law Yat Wai, PC14338. He testified that he rode with other officers to inspect areas in Causeway Bay, and he noticed on Leighton Road there were a few black-clad people, and the one farthest away threw a traffic cone on the westward side to stop vehicles from moving.
However, it was found from footage played during trial that there were still cars travelling on said road, so the judge asked the witness if there was indeed a traffic cone, how could cars still be moving. “Did the cars get around it or did they manually removed it?”, he asked. The officer changed his testimony and said he did not observe enough detail, and said, “the cone was very small, maybe an inch taller than an A4 paper.” The judge then asked, “so it couldn’t have blocked the cars?”, to which the officer replied that it seemed to be true after looking back at the footage.
Besides, the officer also mentioned there was a group of black-clad people, but when he watched the footage, he denied it was the group he was thinking of, and said, “maybe the actual scene is a bit farther away before this, maybe I made a mistake with my observation.” The judge pointed out that only one group of black-clad people was mentioned by the officer, to which he replies, “yes, yes, sorry”. The judge clarified, “I don’t need your apology, I only need to know what you saw.” When cross-examined by defense counsel, he admitted that within the period of the alleged crime, there was no traffic cone on the road, just a black object on the sidewalk, and his observation was inaccurate.
Perverting the course of justice is a crime under Common Law. This crime is applicable to behaviours or attempts to pervert the course of justice (Halsbury’s Laws of England 4th Ed. Reissue, Vol. 11(1) para. 315)
– Bringing a false charge against a person
– Makeing false statements to police officers investigating an offence
Law of Hong Kong Cap. 200 Crimes Ordinance Article 31
If any person lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter, either generally or in a particular judicial proceeding, wilfully makes a statement in any judicial proceeding which is material in that proceeding and which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, he shall be guilty of perjury and shall be liable on conviction upon indictment to imprisonment for 7 years and to a fine.
Related event: 1102 “Fight For Autonomy, Stand With Hong Kong” Rally