HKSAR v Chan Chi Man
Court of Appeal
Criminal Appeal No 262 of 2018
Zervos JA
4 January 2019

Criminal sentencing — road traffic offences — dangerous driving — driving whilst disqualified — using motor vehicle without third party insurance — reckless driving worst of its kind — sentence not manifestly excessive — observations on inadequacy of maximum term of three years’ imprisonment for dangerous driving

D pleaded guilty to dangerous driving (“Charge 2”), driving whilst disqualified (“Charge 3”), and using a motor vehicle without third party insurance (“Charge 4”). D, a taxi driver who was disqualified from driving, drove with a passenger at very high speeds on a motorway weaving in and out of traffic to evade a police motorcyclist pursuing him for speeding. When he came to stationary vehicles waiting at a traffic light, he could not stop in time and damaged eight vehicles and injured some of the occupants and his own passenger, although no one was seriously injured. The Judge considered D’s driving “reckless in the extreme” and, on Charge 1, adopted a starting point of 30 months, reduced it for plea to 20 months’ imprisonment, disqualified D from driving for four years and ordered him to take a driving improvement course; on Charge 3, adopted a starting point of three months and reduced it for plea to two months’ imprisonment; and on Charge 4, adopted a starting point of six months and reduced for plea to four months’ imprisonment and disqualified D from driving for 18 months. Given totality, the Judge ordered the terms of imprisonment and disqualification orders to run concurrently. Almost three months later, D sought leave to appeal out of time against sentence without explaining the delay in filing the application. At the hearing, D said he initially accepted the sentence imposed, but changed his mind after discussing his case with other inmates.

Held, dismissing the application, that:

1) D’s explanation for the delay was rejected and his application was without merit. Neither the term of imprisonment nor the period of disqualification were manifestly excessive or wrong in principle; in fact, they were lenient (SJ v Ko Wai Kit [2001] 3 HKLRD 751, HKSAR v Lam Shun Choi (CACC 402/2002, [2013] HKEC 979), HKSAR v Pang Ho Yin Patrick (CACC 283/2013, [2014] HKEC 646), SJ v Hung Ling Kwok [2010] 4 HKLRD 365 considered). (See paras. 1, 5, 9.)

3) Further, D’s attempt to diminish his culpability by comparing his case to others only highlighted the seriousness of his offending. This case was the worst of its kind, putting at serious risk the lives and property of others, and warranted severe punishment. (See para. 10.)

4) (Obiter) The maximum three-year term for dangerous driving was inadequate. It was hoped that this and other cases illustrated the need to set a maximum that would appropriately punish offenders who put at risk the lives and property of others by such driving (SJ v Ko Wai Kit [2001] 3 HKLRD 751 considered). (See para. 12.)

Application for leave to appeal against sentence

This was an application for leave to appeal out of time against sentence for dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and using a motor vehicle without third-party insurance imposed by Judge Casewell in the District Court on 11 June 2018 (see [2018] HKEC 1830). The facts are set out in the judgment.

Jurisdictions: 

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