Good News for the Well-Bred, Rich and Educated with Doting Families

“The defendant has a good background, a well-off family, good education and outstanding academic achievement” and “a first-class honor in bachelor of business administration,” the Post quoted the magistrate as saying. “Most importantly,” the magistrate was quoted as saying, Bokhary “has caring and concerned parents.”     Bloomberg

What Magistrate Anthony Yuen Wai-ming didn’t say when letting Amina Mariam Bokhary off without a prison sentence for assaulting (well, vaguely slapping) a policeman – her third conviction for it, no less – after driving and crashing while under the influence of alcohol, was that she is the niece of a Court of Final Appeal Judge. He did say that he saw her drunkenness as a result of her bipolar disorder, or manic-depression. Yet he also seemed impressed with her intention to go to the Betty Ford Clinic, which of course treats alcoholism, not bipolarism (though walking free after hitting cops on three occasions would cure me of depression).

What many would like to know – and surely have a right to know – is what weighting Magistrate Yuen, and presumably the rest of our judiciary, give mitigating factors of this sort.

Bokhary’s total sentence amounts to an HK$8,000 fine and 12 months’ probation and suspension of driving licence. What would this have been if she did not come from a ‘good background’ (let’s say: lives in public housing, never knew her father, mother was a hooker). Would that have converted six months of the probation to time in prison? Eight months? What if her family were not ‘well-off’ (let’s say: parents on welfare, siblings unemployed, debt-collectors knocking on the door at odd times)? Would that have added another HK$8,000 to the fine? Another HK$16,000? Conversely, if they were twice as wealthy, would the fine have been HK$6,000, HK$4000, or what?

Without her ‘outstanding academic achievement’ (let’s say she dropped out of high school), would she have had her licence suspended for two years, or three? What if her degree was neither first-class nor in business administration. Would she have been sentenced to, say, 100 hours community service if it was a second-class BSc in chemistry? What increase or decrease in sentencing does a third-class degree in sociology merit?

Then there is that ‘most important’ extenuating circumstance: Bokhary has caring and concerned parents. What would the sentence have been if her father drank his wages away and the mother gambled everything else and never put any food on the table? Would that have resulted in an instant two years in the slammer for the errant daughter, no questions asked? What if one parent were negligent but the other struggled against the odds to see the kids were decently dressed and fed? Would that mean a year in prison plus a year on probation? If her mother had stubbed cigarettes out on her body when she was a baby and her father had thrown her out of the window and regretted the fact that she lived, albeit crippled, after bouncing off a tarpaulin, would she have been sent down for 10 years and given a HK$500,000 fine and a lifetime driving ban? We should be told. All we know, judging from the fact that Magistrate Yuen made no mention of it, is that having an uncle who sits on our top court doesn’t come into it.

The man to call, it seems, is one Christopher Morley of Haldanes Solicitors (consistently voted Criminal Law Firm of the Year, and I think we can see why). Hailing from quality gentry and nice, comfortably off folks, and blessed with at least halfway decent schooling, I have made a note of his number and will carry it at all times.

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32 Responses to Good News for the Well-Bred, Rich and Educated with Doting Families

  1. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    You’d think most of those factors would be culpatory rather the exculpatory ie “you had all these privileges, so you’ve got know excuses for acting like a crazy bitch”.

    I dated a slightly bipolar girl once, although that’s my internet-based diagnosis rather than based on a professional opinion. Great sex while it lasted, but the emotional outbursts of vituperation or violence got a bit much.

  2. gunlaw says:

    Even better is to be a relative of Selina Chow

  3. yyzvoyageur says:

    Thank you for this post.

  4. SandyKing says:

    If you like demonstrations of money springing you from jail, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    The Nancy Kissel retrial starts soon.

    Who can say if the Mainland’s ideas about justice are all wrong and the British common law legal system is all right?

  5. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Better still is David Webb’s note on this:

    “An alert reader draws Webb-site’s attention to a similar case, Kowloon Tong Magistracy Criminal Case 7059 of 2009, HKSAR v Yiu Chi Shing, in which the defendant pleaded guilty to having “slapped a police constable’s face causing tenderness” (but no love). This was “a man of previous good character in his early forties” (in other words, unlike Amina, who is 34, he had no prior convictions), but he was sentenced to 14 days in jail. He appealed his sentence to the Court of First Instance. Just five weeks ago, on 29-Jun-2010, his appeal was dismissed. In an ironic note, the judge on appeal was none other than Amina’s aunt, Verina Saeeda Bokhary, the wife of the Court of Final Appeal judge.”

  6. Historian says:

    The most shocking this about all this to me is still the way that copper went down after she slapped his face. He looked like he’d been hit with a Taser.

  7. Historian says:

    shocking ‘thing’ sorry

  8. Maugrim says:

    Historian, it was like an Argentinian football player jnowing the ref was watching, in his case, he knew the TV camera was there.

    Jokes aside, the desision is a disgrace, 3rd time for crissake. If she had been someone from a little known public housing estate, she would have received a gaol term. Add to it the story linked to above and other incidents involving the beating of domestic helpers. Such disparities seemingly occur all the time.

  9. Doctor Devil's Advocate says:

    What to do? I say let’s reinstate Glenville Cross-Eyed as Director of Public Let-Offs immediately!! He certainly knew his haves from his have-nots.

  10. Doctor Devil's Advocate says:

    That’s Grenville Cross-Eyed, SBS; not Glenville, of course. Sorry for the typo …

  11. David says:

    ‘Who can say if the Mainland’s ideas about justice are all wrong and the British common law legal system is all right?’

    Hmmm. You mean you think the sentence was too light? Under the China system if she’d shot the policeman and was related to someone high up in the Government the case wouldn’t even have come to court, let alone a suspended sentence, was that the kind of thing you had in mind?

  12. The Shahow HK says:

    Maybe she just off because she is so fat, ugly and stupid and the judge could not bear to punish those already in prison having to be near someone like her. I am sure she will do well at Betty Ford – it is well known for helping arseholes but I wouldn’t want to be the person on the plane sitting next her when she travels there.

  13. Dave says:

    How come the english press does not focus on the fact that she has another more powerful uncle. None other than Ronald Arculli? The Chinese press mentions this all the time I understand from my Chinese co-workers. I have only seen it mentioned once in the SCMP.

    I mean really who is more powerful in the city. An aging expat judge or the ubiquitous Ronnie, who sits on every gov’t board in the city.

  14. Grumpy says:

    Talking of people from “good family backgrounds, with loving parents”, I notice we STILL haven’t had Larry Yung locked up for looting CITIC in 2008…

  15. maugrim says:

    Speaking of wealthy progeny, I notice that Cathay Pacific has on its board 36 year old Merlin Swire. Named after either an unhealthy obsession with jet engines or mythical English history. Could be worse, could be Pratt Swire I spose.

  16. Not Ted Thomas says:

    If she is related to the judge, why does she not look South Asian ?

    On another topic, but related: class justice.

    Sally Aw, the newspaper and tiger balm queen, was not prosecuted because she had close (and some said, amorous) ties to Tung Chee Wah, at that time CEO of HK.

  17. The Prodigal Son says:

    Come now. The CFA have been maintaining their body as an exclusive club for years – refusing countless appeals and keeping their number small with no intellectually rigorous, nor constitutionally valid justification under the Basic Law.

    What would be the point of perverting the normal course of jurisprudential merit to create a private member’s club if there weren’t some good old fashioned perks to being part of it?

  18. Plod says:

    One Country, Two Legal Systems

  19. Tomy says:

    Are the mob now our judges? Of all those who have commented has anyone heard all that was said on her behalf in court or read any of the reports about her? If they have not how can they give any informed comment!!!!!?

  20. Bogbrush says:

    If she ever slaps another cop again I swear I’ll do time.

  21. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    No one is claiming their comments are informed, but justice must no just be done, but must seem to be done. When the public perceives injustice (correctly or not), it’s only option is to raise an outcry so that either more explanation is forthcoming or the decision is reconsidered.

  22. maugrim says:

    Come off it Tomy, sure, HK has its share of sensationalist stories du jour, bus uncle, the recent tour guide’s scolding etc. However, in this case, 3rd time lucky. I do have to question as to wether, given that some 50% of the cases concerning assaults upon police receive a gaol term justice has been applied ‘equally’. The video of the incident doesn’t help in creating any sympathy either.

  23. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Comments need an edit function so I can correct my typos and embarrassing punctuation errors.

  24. Bogbrush says:

    Yeah, it’s Hemlock’s fault that you can’t write, spell or type properly.

  25. g says:

    let’s hear a round of applause for the well-breds of the world

  26. Tomy says:

    The judge has already said she is sick not bad…but everyone is ignoring that and focussing on her connections. She should not receive favourable treatment because of who she is, but equally she should not receive the vilification she has been subjected to because of who she is. Bear in mind the judge read reports that only the lawyers have seen. He showed compassion and understanding. What is happening to us when people are actually demonstrating that someone should be locked away.

  27. David says:

    Sure Tomy, I understand your point. However the reason that people are focusing on her connections is also because the judge specifically referred to her connections, wealth and family background as mitigating factors for sentencing in his summing up. Regardless of the specific ins and outs of this case, that’s worrying (and it’s not the first time).

  28. Gail says:

    If she can get away with criminal assault 3 times in a row just based on her impressive family background, why shouldn’t she get straight A’s? What professor dare to fail her?

    Her ADD, manic depression, and substance abuse problems obviously only prevented her from abiding by the law, but not her academic performances? She can’t even follow simple traffic rules, or police instructions, for that matter. How did she ever managed to follow the instructions when she wrote her exams in college?

  29. S. Li says:

    ” Untouchables ”
    I thought this word only refers to a certain underprivileged class in India. Now I know in HK it has an entirely opposite meaning – it refers to the super-rich.

  30. Peter B says:

    I would fine the lady………. and ban her for life from driving

  31. Woodentop says:

    ‘He did say that he saw her drunkenness as a result of her bipolar disorder.’

    An esteemed Psychiatrist pal of mine (no, I’m not seeking his professional services) has told me that the Magistrate erred by not imposing a custodial sentence at Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre for evaluation of the alleged bi-polar disorder.

    HK courts have no jurisdiction to impose a sentence involving treatment at an overseas medical institution; therefore, the Magistrate should not have taken into consideration a promise of seeking such treatment overseas as a mitigating factor.

    As has been rightly pointed out, the Betty Ford Clinic treats alcoholism not mental disorders.

    Drinking is a contributory factor to her bi-polar disorder and not vice-versa. Suffering from such a disorder does not make a sufferer more (or less) likely to have a drinking problem.

    Bottoms Up !

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