A karaoke hostess was sentenced to three years in prison by the District Court yesterday for blackmailing a senior government official in Hong Kong for a total of HK$590,000 after he ended their extramarital affair in February of last year.
The official's name was not released, and he was only identified in court as Mr X.
The hostess, Hui Wing, 36, was first charged with blackmailing the official for HK$500,000 on threats to commit suicide and to expose their affair to his boss and the media. She later agreed to accept $380,000.
She was also charged with blackmailing the official for an additional HK$90,000 after she received HK$290,000 in March. The divorcee from Central China's Hubei Province was convicted of both charges. Each sentence is for three years, but Judge Andrew Chan Hing-wai yesterday ordered them served concurrently because the offenses were closely related.
He said that Hui's blackmail was unbridled and unscrupulous because she took advantage of Mr X's senior position in the government.
He noted that the official and his wife were tormented for months by Hui and suffered considerably.
Earlier, the court heard testimony that Mr X received several phone calls from an unknown Chinese man, and that the official's wife received 1,000 anonymous fax messages in her office in June, threatening to harm her because her role in breaking up the affair hurt "someone" else.
Judge Chan didn't explicitly say whether the HK$290,000 Hui received from Mr X after they broke up would have to be repaid, but he said there was no indication she would pay it back.
Defense barrister Lily Yew pleaded with Judge Chan to take into account Hui's emotional state after the break-up and to note that she did not have previous criminal records, so it was unlikely for her to commit the same offense again.
Judge Chan considered the plea but said blackmailing was criminally liable and the punishment should have a deterrent effect.
The trial started in November.
Mr X and Hui began their affair when they first met at a karaoke lounge in Mongkok in October 2006 and had sex that night.
They continued their four-month extramarital affair until Mrs X accidentally discovered text messages from Hui in February, while Mr X underwent an operation at Queen Mary Hospital. Mr X subsequently broke up with Hui over the phone.
The hostess then called Mr X several times demanding a total of HK$590,000. Hui threatened the couple until they reported the matter to the police in June.
In an earlier court testimony given behind a curtain, Mr X said Hui was hardworking, knowledgeable and cultured.
During cross-examination, Hui said she was forced to work at the karaoke lounge in order to pay her two mortgages on the mainland.
She added that she did not want anything except Mr X's love, and the outcome has hurt her pride.
(China Daily January 3, 2008)