Defendant pled guilty to two counts of throwing corrosive fluid with intent to do grievous bodily harm, in contravention of section 29(c) of the Offences Against the Person Ordinance, Cap 212. The corrosive fluid thrown was sulphuric acid, concentrated at 87%. Sulphuric acid at that concentration is highly corrosive and capable of causing severe burns to the skin and permanent damage to the eyes. His victims were his estranged wife and his 21-year-old son. At the time of the incident, Defendant was 65 and he was in the process of divorce, living apart from his estranged wife. Defendant returned to the marital home and became emotional, taking a knife and threatening his soon to be ex-wife. When his son, the second victim, saw what was occurring, he stood in front of his mother to protect her. Defendant opened a bottle of liquid and poured it on his estranged wife’s chest. The liquid also splashed onto his son. Because his wife was wearing only a nightgown and his son only underwear, both were burned. The victims rushed to the bathroom to attempt to wash off the liquid. They locked the door and called for help, but Defendant kicked the door in, causing a subsequent struggle. After the situation ended, the victims were taken to a hospital, where it was determined that Defendant’s estranged wife suffered 38% body burns and the son suffered 25% surface burns. The Court noted that “[acid throwing] is a very serious offence of a type which sadly occurs far too often in Hong Kong. . . . The offender aims to punish the victim for the emotional damage and to ensure that the victim is disfigured or incapacitated. The defendant here was intent on punishing the first victim for proceeding with the divorce.” The maximum penalty for acid throwing is life imprisonment. In this case, the judge passed down a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.
HKSAR v. Lau Chung-tim
High Court of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Court of First Instance