A 15-year-old boy who pleaded guilty to rioting does not blame the police officer who fired at him more than a year ago and would have made the same decision if he were in the latter’s shoes, his defense lawyer said in court.
He was sentenced to a training center on Wednesday after the lawyer, senior counsel Lawrence Lok, submitted a mitigation letter from the father expressing his son’s deep regret for his actions. The boy is one of the youngest convicted of rioting during 2019 unrest in Hong Kong and will have a criminal record.
Last month, the boy admitted in Fanling Magistrates’ Courts to taking part in a riot in Yuen Long on Oct. 4, 2019, the night before an emergency law prohibiting mask-wearing at protests was due to take effect.
The incident took place at about 8:30 p.m., as a crowd of protesters including the defendant, then 14, was surrounding a plainclothes police officer. Some tugged at the officer’s collar and snatched his baton, prompting him to draw his gun and fire warning shots. Petrol bombs landed at the officer’s feet, whereupon he opened fire again, hitting the 14-year-old in the left thigh.
Prosecutors originally pressed charges of rioting and intending to cause grievous bodily harm. The boy then agreed to plead guilty to the first charge, so they did not pursue the second charge.
Lok, the defense lawyer, told the court on Wednesday that an assessment of his client’s suitability for a training center was very positive and showed the defendant was remorseful.
He added that the defendant had been influenced by the mood of the crowd, and pointed to calls on the LIHKG online forum for people to gather at the scene.
When passing sentence, magistrate Don So said he had considered the submissions from the defense, the seriousness of the case and the fact that the defendant had suffered a gunshot wound.
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