A man who stabbed four pedestrians with a knife in Tseung Kwan O in October last year was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old construction worker, Kwan Ping-wai, had previously pleaded guilty in the High Court to four counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The random chopping spree took place on October 2 and 3 in two public housing estates and two shopping malls, where four men aged between 18 and 53 were stabbed. The youngest victim, Chan Tsz-kit, whose left arm was cut to the bone, now has limited movement of his hand and fingers. The other three victims — Lam Hing-nam, 53; Tung Kwai-hin, 50; and Wong Chi-hong, 46 — suffered relatively minor injuries.
The defense counsel for Kwan asked Justice Peter J Line for a lenient sentence, saying that the assailant suffered from mental problems and he had been abusing the drug commonly known as “ice” for about 10 years. He said the attacks were not aimed at robbing the victims nor were they intended for revenge.
Justice Line ruled that although the defendant was psychotic when committing the crimes, the offences were still to be considered intentional, because the accused had chosen to take the drugs in the first place, before he started to develop hallucinations and delusions of persecution.
The judge maintained that Kwan had been receiving treatment at Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre for more than 10 months and there was no need for him to continue treatment.
However, the judge said he feared Kwan might pose a threat to the public if he takes drugs again in the future, adding public safety is his top priority.
Kwan has previous convictions for assault, drug possession and other offences. The attacks normally would have resulted in a term of imprisonment for three to seven and a half years. Sentence was reduced from the maximum by one-third (to five years) because he had pleaded guilty.
The judge warned Kwan that if he committed a similar offence after being released, he would be jailed for an even longer period.
Speaking on a radio program shortly after the attack, one of the victims, Chan Tsz-kit, recalled he was inside a tunnel near King Lam Estate in Po Lam, on his way to meet friends shortly after midnight on the morning of October 3, when he was attacked from behind.
He turned around to see a man wearing a cap, a facemask, a windbreaker and jeans and holding a butcher’s knife. The man fled when he saw a couple approaching after stabbing Chan four times.
The youth was taken to Tseung Kwan O Hospital where police visited him. An officer told him there had been three similar attacks on the night he was stabbed.
Police arrested the suspect at his flat in Tak Chak House on the Hau Tak Estate, where one of the assaults took place. The suspect had been identified from a surveillance video.
Police came under heavy criticism for failing to warn the public about the attacks and had disclosed details only after media reports.