The Court of Appeal has raised the sentence for a darts club owner convicted last October of sexually assaulting a customer three years ago. He will serve a two year jail term instead of a community service order.
Thomas Lee Yun-kin, 35, was sentenced last October to 240 hours of community service order after the prosecution accepted his guilty plea to one count of sexual assault. He denied the more serious charge of rape.
The prosecution appealed the sentencing, saying that it was too light compared to similar past cases in which defendants were given jail terms ranging from 15 to 30 months.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal – presided over by three judges – overturned the sentence and ordered a two-year jail term to be served immediately. Reasons for the sentence will be announced at a later date.
Last October, the court heard that Lee drugged a 22-year-old customer at his darts club in San Po Kong on March 18, 2014. The man was accused of raping the customer afterwards.
The prosecution said the victim felt dizzy after consuming two glasses of an alcoholic beverage. She recalled telling someone to stop touching her breasts before losing conscious. Her boyfriend later found her unconscious on the premises with her trousers unzipped.
Doctors later found sedatives in her blood, as well as Lee’s semen in her underpants and outside her private parts. However, they did not find signs of internal injury.
Police failed to collect the relevant ice cubes from the drinks as potential evidence. Owing to insufficient evidence, the prosecution changed the charge to sexual assault.
After pleading guilty, Lee said in mitigation that he and the victim were hugging, and that the victim did not resist when he rubbed his genitals against her underpants. He said he stopped immediately after the victim refused to have sex.
Trial judge Gareth Lugar-Mawson said there was no evidence Lee had drugged the victim. He mentioned the fact that the pair exchanged text messages frequently before the incident, which he said may have led Lee to believe he could develop their relationship further.
The judge said he decided to hand down a non-jail sentence after considering the possibility that Lee might be unable to find employment and “become a drain on society” if he had gone to prison.
“You also appear to have an entrepreneurial spirit which can be seen by the fact you set up this darts club where your offence took place,” he said.
“You, unlike most men, and indeed women, who appear before me in these courts, are a man of good character… You are an individual of some worth.”
At one point, Judge Lugar-Mawson rejected the prosecution’s request to order a report evaluating the victim’s psychological damage, because he believed she was not affected by the incident in the long term, Apple Daily reported at the time.
Meanwhile, he ordered a social enquiry report from Lee, saying that he had demonstrated remorse and was unlikely to commit the offence again.
The judge later apologised to the victim after a psychologist said the victim suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
The victim told Apple Daily on Tuesday that she still suffers from insomnia and needs to see psychiatrists regularly. “I hope I will get better soon,” she said.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong, who assisted her throughout the court process, said the appellate court did justice for the victim. He urged people with similar experiences to step forward and seek justice.