Psst! Not so fast! My appeal depends on it
Fraud seems to be very much the crime du jour. For earlier this week, former Chairwoman of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce, Lily Chiang Lai Lei, prepared for her release from jail today by launching an appeal against her conviction. One thing you have to say for Lily is that doing time hasn’t changed her. She went into Lo Wu Correctional Institution completely loopy, and she’s coming out of it 21 months later batshit crazy.
While you’ve got to give Lily full marks for an obsessive refusal to live without all the comforts offered by denial, one has to wonder if a rational person would fly in the face of established judicial practice by attempting to get the Court of Appeal to revisit points of fact rather than points of law.
You see, according to Lily, when her trial finally took place nearly two years ago after all her attempts to delay it or prevent it from going ahead at all, the judge, Albert Wong Sung Hau, made a “fundamental flaw in the fact-finding exercise”. The silly old District Court judge wasn’t able to reckon on just how slowly Lily can walk if she really puts her mind to it. No wonder they never promoted him to the Court of First Instance.
In essence, the debate rages around how long it took Lily, who’s no slouch fitness-wise, having apparently completed the 100-kilometre Trailwalker race on more than one occasion, and her secretary to perform the following simple operations:
1. Secretary withdraws money from a cashier at a Bank of China branch
2. Secretary walks to the entrance to hand the cash to her boss
3. Boss takes cash to bank vault.
Now, apparently, the court heard that this simple operation took three minutes, which seems about right to me, unless of course a) the BOC branch was a lot larger than your average BOC branch, b) the secretary dawdled (unlikely when your boss is waiting for you to bring her 2 million smackers, I’d have thought) and c) the vault was in a different building, or really, really deep.
On the last count, at any rate, we have the, albeit subjective and necessarily partisan, testimony of Lily’s own barrister to the contrary, for the current incumbent of the job – Lily’s been through a few of them – one Clare Montgomery, QC, says it takes a full 43 seconds to walk from the bank entrance to the vault. (For the purposes of full disclosure, Ms Montgomery does not specify whether she did the trial run weighed down by 2 million dollars in bank notes or not.)
With evidence of this type to present to the wise men and women of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Peter Cheung Chak Yau, Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai Ling and Mr Justice Andrew Macrae, you’d have to say a punt on a snowball in hell represents better value.