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3 Filipinos in court for gambling, violation of gathering rules

03 November 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

A 'fish-hitting' machine like this was among the items seized from the games center

Three Filipino male residents who were arrested while gambling in a games centre at the time the strictest anti-virus gathering restrictions were in force in Hong Kong, all pleaded guilty to various offences in Eastern Court today, Nov. 3.

The offences were committed on Aug 14 this year, at the height of the third and most deadly wave of infections to sweep across Hong Kong.

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The restrictions imposed by the Secretary for Food and Health which were in effect from Aug 1-18 included a prohibition on the opening of games or amusement centers (Capp. 99 subs f) and the gathering in public of more than two people (Cap. 99, subs g)

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First defendant R. Ledesma, who admitted violating the two regulations, was sentenced by Magistrate Winnie Lau to 10 days in prison for each of the two offences, but with the sentences to run concurrently.

Magistrate Lau said that a jail term was necessary as the defendant had ignored the risk to public safety and the possible burden on medical frontliners when he committed the offences.

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Ledesma was also fined $3,000 for managing the gambling establishment on the first floor of 19 Canal Road in Wanchai. He admitted being paid $800 a day for running the gambling establishment for an unknown person.

He decided to plead guilty to all the charges against him despite being told by the magistrate that he could ask for an adjournment so he could seek legal advice, as a prison term was inevitable in his case.

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The two other Filipino men, A. Tagbatan and R. Miranda, were fined $800 each after admitting a charge of illegal gambling.

The prosecution said all the defendants had prior convictions, but only Ledesma had a record related to gambling.

Lau said the sentences already reflected the 1/3 discount given to all accused for their guilty plea.

Three other people, all non-Filipinos, were similarly charged with gambling at the said premises but were not in court for the hearing.

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All the defendants were arrested during a raid on the illegal establishment by a team from the Wanchai Police Department, under authority by the Department for Food and Health.

On application by the prosecution and with the consent of the defendants, the court ordered that various gambling paraphernalia seized from the illicit establishment, including betting machines for “fish hitting” and “insect shooting”, be destroyed.

In a separate case, another Filipino man was fined $500 in Kowloon City Court after pleading guilty to gambling in a gambling establishment in Yaumatei on Aug 2.

A.A. Gomez, 46 years old, was among eight people arrested by police when they raided a second-floor flat on a building on 8 Battery St, Yaumatei, at 12:35pm on that day. His co-accused were all sentenced in a previous hearing, but his case was adjourned because he had no interpreter in court.

After announcing the sentence, Magistrate Ada Yim reminded Gomez not to return to an illegal gambling establishment.

But Gomez replied, “That’s impossible. Thank you,” before walking away. – with a report from Vir B. Lumicao

 


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