(Chapman Chen reports) Summary: Today (April 4) High Court Judge Albert Wong heard the mitigation for autistic Yung Wai-yip, aged 35, aka Captain America, and Yuen Chi-kui, aged 28, with Aspergers Syndrome, both found guilty of rioting in the 2016 Mongkok Police-civilian Clash. Yung was convicted after trial and Yuen had pleaded guilty beforehand. Both have been suffering from autism since childhood. Both have no previous criminal record. Both love Hong Kong dearly and have done a lot of voluntary work. Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen, who was present today, has written mitigation letters for both. Forsaken by his mother at 3, Yung and his 93-year-old grandma depend on each other for survival. Due to his childhood trauma, Yung is a foot fetishist. Yuen is the principal economic pillar of his family with senile parents and a sick brother. As Yung’s illness is innate and he cannot well comprehend the consequences of his action, a lengthy prison sentence, as argued by Yung’s defense counsel Douglas Kwok, may not deter the public, and in view of his slowness in following instructions and poor social skills, may even ruin him. The same may apply to Yuen. While reading out in court samples from 120 mitigation letters for Yung, Yung’s defense counsel sobbed, as did Yung’s grandma. Both counsels asked for probation and/or a suspended sentence for their clients. The sentences will be passed on May 9.
Childhood Trauma and Freudian Fetishism
Reading out samples from 120 mitigation letters, Yung’s defense counsel Douglas Kwok often sobbed as was Yung’s 93-year-old grandma. It turned out that Yung Wai-yip aka Captain America, with no criminal record before, was forsaken by his mother soon after birth and raised by his grandma until 6, when he rejoined his father and step-ma. At the age of 8, he was reunited with his biological mother for 2 days and saw her washing her feet. Since then, Yung has taken a fetishistic interest in women’s feet. He was diagnosed of autism at 3 and no kindergarten would take him.
Fixation on the British HK Flag
After six, he studied in various schools for mentally retarded kids until Form 3. (A government psychologist testified in court today that Yung’s IQ was low but still normal, while during the trial, a government psychiatrist certified Yung’s autism.) At the age of 17, when HK was still a British colony, Yung won 2 swimming medals on behalf of HK in the Olympics for the Handicapped. That’s the most brilliant period in his life, and that’s why he often waved the British Hong Kong flag in demonstrations in recent years. After completing Form 3, Yung worked conscientiously as swimming coach and security guard consecutively. At the age of 29, he began living with his grandma again after falling out with his father because of his involvement in social activism. The two of them depend on each other for survival. Yung is a simple person. Though his social skills were poor, his desire to make friends were strong. He took part in numerous protests organized by different political parties, thinking that he could thereby help Hong Kong and make more friends, being unaware that he had placed himself in complicated and dangerous circumstances and that people ridiculed him behind his back.
Moral Condemnation Would not Apply
As autistics cannot easily comprehend the consequences of their action, moral condemnation in terms of sentencing does not apply to them very suitably. And as their illness is innate, passing a severe sentence on them will not have a proper deterrent effect on the public. Moreover, as autistics are slow in following instructions and their social skills are poor, imprisonment may destroy them psychologically and physically. A long sentence will make them fixated onto prison rules and unable to adapt themselves to society again when they are released. So counsel Kwok requested the court to consider probation or a suspended sentence for Yung. Kwok cited serious criminal cases in which autistic defendants were dealt with by way of probation.
Pleaded Guilty Early
Yuen Chi-kui, 28 years old, with no criminal record before, seized the first opportunity to plead guilty to 3 rioting charges. According to his counsel and the mitigation letters the counsel read out, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Asperger syndrome in primary school. He stopped seeking therapy after Form 3 and has had difficulty in controlling impulses and socializing. He was bullied by classmates at school and rejected by colleagues at work. He graduated with a diploma in design from Caritas Institute. He used to teach children paper-cutting and other art crafts in a studio. After being arrested in that studio in connection with this case, he lost the job and started doing freelance work.
A Filial Son and a Righteous Man
The pressure of this case has caused him to suffer from insomnia and to have suicidal thoughts. For years, he has done voluntary works, including visiting the elderly, explaining the danger of water tainted with lead, helping stray dogs and cats, teaching children paper cutting and preparation of dumplings free of charge, etc. His parents are over 60 and going to retire soon. His younger brother is a crippled psychotic. His grandpa is dangerous ill. As the major economic supporter of his family, he has been very filial. He was very regretful about his impulsive action on the night concerned. He has promised to his father that he will turn over a new leaf when he walks out of prison. He understands that in order to change the world, one has to change oneself first. He is prepared to pursue further studies in jail.
A Brilliant Artist as put by Cardinal Zen
Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen’s mitigation letters states that Yuen is an outstanding artist and his works were exhibited in the Convention Centre. He also acted as a papercutting ambassador. The cardinal wishes the court would pass a lenient sentence on him in view of his genuine regret for a moment’s impulsiveness.
Judge Albert adjourned the case to May 9 for probation and community service reports and for sentencing. No bailed allowed.
Chapman Chen reports:
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