La (Lam) Le-hai v The Queen

Court:Court of Appeal (Hong Kong)
Judgement Number:CACC1138/1979
Judgment Date:04 Jan 1980
CACC001138/1979 LA (LAM) LE-HAI v. THE QUEEN

CACC001138/1979

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF HONG KONG

(Appellate Jurisdiction)

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1138 OF 1979

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BETWEEN
LA (LAM) LE-HAI Appellant

AND

THE QUEEN Respondent

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Coram: Silke, J. in Court.

Date of Judgment: 4 January 1980

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JUDGMENT

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1. The appellant, Lam Le Hai, appeals against an order made at North Kowloon Magistracy detaining him in a Detention Centre.

2. The appellant is a 17 years old, Vietnamese, refugee boy. The convictions which gave rise to the sentence were eight offences of petty theft ranging over a period of June to September 1979. These were committed in the refugee camp in Hong Kong where the boy lived and involved, as the major item, a sewing machine which was recovered: the rest being a radio cassette not recovered, personal clothing and two small sums of money.

3. When apprehended he freely confessed and he pleaded guilty in Court.

4. A mean series of offences committed against people in the same situation as himself.

5. I would hasten to add that nothing I say here is intended in any way as a criticism of the learned trial magistrate.

6. The learned trial magistrate had the benefit of a probation report and a Detention Centre Suitability Report.

7. He was told by a relation of the boy that the family were awaiting permission to go to Canada where the boy's elder brother already resided.

8. He did not, as I do, have the benefit of seeing a letter from the First Secretary (Immigration) of the Commission for Canada - tendered by Miss Leung, who appeared for the appellant on the instruction of the Director of Legal Aid.

9. The boy came here with his elder brother in April 1979. His parents and his elder sister came later and were placed in another refugee camp. This I think to be unfortunate. Families in such tribulation should at least be united.

10. The Probation Officer, with the throughness the courts have come to expect from officers of the Social Welfare Department, paid a visit to the boy's camp and spoke with his fellow refugees. They were most sympathetic towards the boy and thought the major reason for these offences to be the boys: "severe material deprivation and lack of parental attention and supervision".

11. They asked for a chance for him.

12. In his letter the First Secretary...

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