Student jailed for 18 months after caught carrying pliers in PolyU saga

A 21-year-old female student arrested during the Polytechnic University saga in 2019 was on Saturday jailed for 18 months for possessing offensive weapons after police found her carrying a pair of multi-functional pliers and a can of lighter fuel.

Kwok Hoi-ying appeared before judge Josiah Lam Wai-kuen in District Court on Saturday. She was earlier convicted of possessing offensive weapons for illegal purposes and possessing articles with intent to damage property.

The court heard that at around 5am on November 18, 2019, about 100 protesters formed a fortress of an umbrella outside Yoshinoya on Nathan Road in Yau Ma Tei and lobbed bricks and Molotov cocktails at police.

A dozen of black-clad protesters then fled to an ally nearby, where Kwok was also intercepted by police. She was wearing gloves, goggles, a respirator, and a helmet, and police found a pair of multi-functional pliers and a can of lighter fuel in her backpack.

In mitigation, the defense said that Kwok committed the crime unwisely because of the social atmosphere at that time. The lawyer also quoted Kwok’s teachers and family saying that she was a kind person and asking Lam not to hand down a sentence with a “crushing effect” to Kwok.

Lam pointed out that although the riot occurred outside the ally, Kwok brought pliers and fuel on the night of the riot and ruled Kwok intended to use those articles, making the nature of her crime more severe.

Lam then sentenced Kwok to 12 months' imprisonment over the pliers and 20 months over the lighter fuel. The two sentences will run concurrently, and the jail term was reduced to 18 months after Kwok pleaded guilty.