Fri, Oct 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Felon breaks window to escape court police

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Ho Jung-chi, who escaped from the Hsinchu District Court on Wednesday, is pictured in an undated photograph.

Photo: Facebook

Hsinchu County police yesterday continued the hunt for a felon who escaped by breaking a window and fleeing the court after a hearing.

Ho Jung-chi (何榮淇), 46, remained at large as of press time last night, as authorities issued warnings to the public.

Ho, a known gangster who had been convicted of manslaughter and illegal possession of firearms, is considered to be dangerous.

The escape had the local judiciary facing public criticism for negligence and lax security measures, as court police reportedly failed to put Ho back into handcuffs after a bail hearing, which provided him with the getaway opportunity.

Two court police officers on Wednesday afternoon transported Ho to a bail hearing in which the judge ruled that he be placed in detention on illegal firearm possession charges, which caused him to become agitated, Hsinchu District Court spokeswoman Wei Jui-hung (魏瑞紅) said.

When entering the court, Ho was put in restrains, bound in handcuffs and shackles, but the handcuffs were taken off later to get his signature and handprint on court papers.

After the hearing, the court officers neglected to put Ho back in handcuffs, Wei said, adding that his hands were free as he walked along a corridor in the building as he was escorted back to the detention center.

Ho then picked up a box cutter left unattended by workers performing building renovations and put it to his throat as if threatening to commit suicide, while he warned the court officers to keep their distance, Wei said.

Then Ho slipped into a fire exit stairwell in the basement, locked the door behind him and ran up to the first floor and toward the back entrance, where he picked up a fire extinguisher, broke a window and jumped outside.

Seeking help from the public, authorities yesterday circulated video from surveillance cameras that showed Ho fleeing with his ankles still in shackles and chains but with his hands free as he ran past a parking lot and into bushes behind the court, toward a park by a river.

“Yes, we had limited personnel at the time, as it was the Mid-Autumn Festival on Wednesday, and we only had three court police officers on duty. Two officers escorted Ho to and from the hearing, one officer had to handle security at the entrance, and they had to take turns to attend to other court hearings,” Wei said.

Ho was in 2007 convicted 2007 of manslaughter and had been sentenced to a confinement of nine years and two months, which he began in 2009, prosecutors said.

Ho was approved for early parole in October 2014, but continued to engage in gang activities. Police found him with two modified handguns at his residence in Jhubei City (竹北) earlier this week, which violated the terms of his parole.

Prosecutors at the bail hearing on Wednesday had pressed charges against Ho and asked that he be detained.

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