31st May 2023 – (Hong Kong) A suspended police officer, Lau has been found guilty of stealing a designer hat worth HK$5,670 from a TWIST store located at iSQUARE in Tsim Sha Tsui last year. Lau was charged with theft after being arrested for stealing the hat in May 2022. She denied the charge, but the case was brought to trial at Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court, and the presiding judge, Kestrel Lam, ruled that Lau was guilty of the crime of theft. The judge found that Lau was aware of her actions and had a dishonest intent when she took the hat without paying for it.
During the trial, it was not disputed that Lau did not pay for the hat. However, the defence argued that Lau did not intend to steal the hat. They called on psychiatric experts to testify that Lau’s behaviour was influenced by her mental state at the time. The defence claimed that Liu suffered from depression, panic disorder, and agoraphobia and that she experienced hallucinations and incontinence at the time of the incident due to the influence of sedatives.
In his ruling, the judge acknowledged that psychiatric experts had testified that Lau’s behaviour was influenced by her mental state. However, the judge also noted that their assessment was based on what Lau had told them about her condition before the incident. The judge questioned the reliability of Lau’s statements and pointed out that there was no way to confirm whether she had taken her medication as prescribed. Therefore, the judge gave little weight to the testimony of the psychiatric experts.
The judge based his decision on the evidence presented by the prosecution, including CCTV footage that showed Lau taking the hat and tampering with its anti-theft device. The judge noted that the footage did not show any abnormal behaviour on Lau’s part and that she was aware of what she was doing. The judge also dismissed Lau’s claim that she was under the influence of medication at the time of the incident.
The judge has ordered two psychiatric reports to be prepared to determine whether Liu is suitable for a hospital order. The case has been adjourned until 14th June, and Lau has been remanded in custody at the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre until then.
Lau’s defence team pleaded for leniency, citing her long history as a police officer and her mental health issues. They argued that a prison sentence would have a detrimental effect on her condition, particularly her panic disorder. They also mentioned that Lau’s husband was a police officer, and her family had a strong police background.