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Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

2 Hong Kong teens sentenced for vandalising bakery in 2019 protests

2 Hong Kong teens sentenced for vandalising bakery in 2019 protests

Student, 18, and boy, 15, plead guilty to count of criminal damage for attack on Arome Bakery in Tseung Kwan O Plaza.

Two teenagers have been sentenced to correctional training for vandalising a bakery operated by a restaurant chain deemed supportive of the government and police during the protests in Hong Kong three years ago.

Student Lau Chin-wang, 18, and a 15-year-old boy, who has dropped out of school, returned to the District Court on Tuesday to be sentenced over the flash mob style attack on the Arome Bakery in Tseung Kwan O Plaza in eastern Kowloon on August 7, 2020.

The duo were among five adolescent boys who targeted the shop run by catering giant Maxim’s Group, which became a frequent target during the social unrest after its founder’s daughter, Annie Wu Suk-ching, openly criticised the protest movement.

The court heard the five had lit a fire on the floor, set fire to a table, defaced four electronic devices, smashed a wooden door and a showcase in the early morning rampage that cost the operator HK$40,140 to repair.

Security footage from the shopping centre captured the moments when the five stormed the shop at around 2.35am wearing black clothes and facial coverings.

Lau and his underage accomplice, who were 16 and 14 respectively at the time of the offence, were seen damaging a cash register. The five fled the scene a minute later.

Police arrested the pair later that month and seized from them two press cards bearing their names issued by online news portals CLSHK and SS Times, both of which have ceased operation.

A subsequent search on Lau’s mobile device revealed the student had sent a message to a Telegram channel popular among protesters saying he had “finished off the Arome Bakery in Tseung Kwan O”.

The 15-year-old was found to have texted the other three suspects via WhatsApp a month after the crime, in which he told his comrades to stay alert and avoid police. The remaining trio was picked up between late August and October.

Last month, Lau and the 15-year-old boy each pleaded guilty to a count of criminal damage after prosecutors agreed to stop pursuing a separate and more serious charge of arson.

During Tuesday’s sentencing Judge Clement Lee Hing-nin said the two accused had been blinded by “momentary misjudgment” and believed the use of violence could address the problems in society.

He sentenced Lau to up to nine months’ counselling and vocational training in a rehabilitation centre, and the 15-year-old to six months’ hard labour in a detention facility.

Of the other three suspects, a 17-year-old is awaiting sentence behind bars after pleading guilty to criminal damage. Cyrus Lau, 19, and another 18-year-old, are now undergoing trial before a separate judge.

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