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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Decisions

You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Decisions >> Ong, R. v [2000] EWCA Crim 92 (02 October 2000)
Cite as: [2001] 1 Cr App R (S) 117, [2000] EWCA Crim 92, [2001] 1 Cr App Rep (S) 117

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Neutral Citation Number: [2000] EWCA Crim 92
No: 9905724 Y3


Royal Courts of Justice
The Strand
London WC2
Monday, 2nd October 2000

B e f o r e :



- v -
Chee Kew ONG


Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
Smith Bernal Reporting Limited
180 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2HG
Tel No: 0171 421 4040 Fax No: 0171 831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)


MR N PETERS QC and MR P MEE appeared on behalf of the



Crown Copyright ©


  1. MR JUSTICE ROUGIER: On 16th August 1999 at Middlesex Crown Court, on what was effectively the first day of the forthcoming trial, this applicant pleaded guilty on rearraignment to conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and on 25th August he was sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment. He renews his application for leave to appeal against that sentence following refusal by the learned single judge.
  2. The case arose out of a conspiracy (whose birth was somewhere in Malaysia) to interfere with the course of a Premier Division football match between Charlton Athletic and Liverpool. The method whereby this was to be done was that electrical devices were to be installed, whereby, by remote control either inside or just outside the ground, the floodlights would be extinguished. Apparently, accordingly to the rules, if such a thing takes place the match is thereby abandoned. Additionally the evidence was that in accordance with the practice of certain bookmakers in the Far East, in such circumstances the result is stated to be the situation at the moment of abandonment. It follows, therefore, that if a large sum of money is placed on the assumption that one side will win and that side is a goal up and the lights are switched off, there will be a very substantial sum to be collected from the bookmakers.
  3. The prime movers in this country were this applicant and another Malaysian called Lim. It was accepted that they were in fact acting on the orders of others in the betting syndicate, but so far as this country is concerned they were the organisers and they recruited two other people: first, a man called Firth, who was a security official at the ground and who, for a considerable sum of money, 20,000, was corrupted so that he gave the defendant, Lim, who was an electrical engineer, access to the control room.
  4. The other person was another Oriental called Liu, who lives in this country and who was an inveterate gambler with a poor record. Liu in fact pleaded not guilty, whereas Firth pleaded guilty. The practical result of this was that the learned judge had the advantage of hearing the entire evidence concerning this conspiracy, and how it was due to be put into effect, in the course of a contested trial. Fortunately it was never put into effect because the police got wind of it, and some 72 hours before the match was due to take place the various defendants were arrested.
  5. In our judgment, when sentencing, the learned judge described the ambit of the conspiracy accurately. He said this:
  6. "It is, nevertheless, quite clear from the sums of money that have been in evidence that not only were persons abroad intending to scoop substantial winnings but that all of you were going to gain substantial financial awards had this plan been put into operation successfully.
    That would have been at the expense of a large section of the public who would have been genuinely annoyed that their entertainment on a Saturday afternoon was disturbed. Not only that it would have caused substantial financial loss to the club and other institutions in this Country. By reason of the cancellation of broadcasting fees and costs of restaging the match.
    Whether that be as high as the half-a-million pounds that was tentatively suggested in evidence, or something less, the evidence called in the trial indicated to me that the loss would have been a six-figure sum.
    The plan involved corruption. You, [Liu], and you, Lim, were prepared to corrupt a security manager. If Firth's services were worth 20,000 then it must follow that others [in] this Court stood to gain many times more.
    I take the view that you were partners in a highly professional, technical, criminal operation for which you were no doubt both going to be paid substantial rewards, regardless of whether in fact the device was used or not."
  7. The first grounds of the appeal are based on the assertion that the sentence of four years is manifestly excessive given the nature of the offence. Under that heading it is said that the learned judge was wrong to take into account the nature of the alleged betting fraud which was not the subject matter of the count for which Mr Ong was sentenced.
  8. As a matter of history there were two counts to the indictment. First, the conspiracy to cause a public nuisance; second, the conspiracy to defraud. The prosecution were content to let the second lie on the file in exchange for the pleas of guilty tendered on the first, but in our judgment it would be wholly unrealistic if the learned judge was not to take into account the purpose and motive behind the public nuisance. Otherwise somebody forging a driving licence would fall to be sentenced with the same severity or otherwise as somebody forging a cheque for 1 million.
  9. It is further suggested that the learned judge failed to give due weight to the finding which he did make that there was a small risk to public safety had the plan been carried out. Quite apart from the fact that the learned judge specifically made that finding and therefore must be taken to have included that amongst the factors which he took in mind, in our judgment that finding was, if anything, unduly favourable to the defendants because it is not difficult to envisage that had the match been abandoned at a point when one side was in fact in the lead, there might have been a great many spectators who were more than merely annoyed but were positively angry. It is somewhat unrealistic to suggest that persons who are angry at football matches do not occasionally resort to violence.
  10. There is nothing put before to us suggest that the learned judge who had heard the case was factually in error in describing the loss to the organisers as in six figures, but perhaps more important, it is quite clear that the gain to the syndicate was going to be very substantial indeed. The applicant is of good character but the learned judge had that in mind, as his sentencing remarks suggest.
  11. The second aspect of the proposed appeal concerns the element of disparity; never a particularly attractive argument, especially when a judge has heard the entire case. As we understand Mr Peters he no longer pursues any disparity between the sentence passed on Firth, since Firth not only pleaded guilty but also gave evidence in the case of Liu. He fixes his cannon on the disparity between the sentence passed on Liu (30 months' imprisonment) and that passed on his client and Lim.
  12. In our judgment, the answer to that is basically (as the learned judge pointed out) that the role of Liu was never able to be described with any certainty. He was certainly not the prime mover. He lived in this country and although he may have been in contact with those in Malay, there is nothing to say exactly what he did other than the evidence that he ferried the conspirators to and from the ground in his car. The learned judge said:
  13. "It is, nevertheless, quite clear that your role [speaking to Liu] was greater in that taking the most favourable view of the evidence your movements on the night of your arrest displayed an interest in events which discloses just that.
    Further of the possession by you [of nearly] 3000 is consistent with the view that you were carrying that as part of the payoff for your co-defendant, Firth.
    I take the view that I am fully entitled to say that you were in contact with the sponsors. Be that as it may there is no evidence to indicate that you are more than a henchman who was prepared to assist, no doubt for a substantial reward."
  14. Again, we consider that that finding was amply justified and that the learned judge would not have been justified in drawing any further inferences adverse to Liu.
  15. Mr Peters has referred us to two cases concerning false bomb hoaxes but, with all due respect, we do not find them of great assistance because there are too many different factors in such cases, not the least of which being the fact that they had in their origin some degree of mental abnormality. Although this was effectively treading new ground, we consider that the practice of interfering with such an important sporting fixture is something that should be actively discouraged by severe sentences, and we cannot say that there is any prospect of persuading this court that the sentence passed on this applicant was manifestly excessive. The application must be refused.

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