A pencil protruding from one of the turtles.

HONG KONG: A jobless man who stabbed 10 turtles to death with pencils because one of them bit him during feeding was jailed for three months by a Hong Kong court on Friday.

The incident took place last October at a pond, which was home to 60 turtles, in Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan.

Eastern Court heard that Choi Man-sang, 60, a retiree with mild intellectual disability, frequently carried pencils around because he loved writing.

He was admitted to hospital on Octr 26 for surgery and was left with a headache after general anaesthesia. An unhappy Choi brought bread to feed the turtles in the pond.

But one bit his finger and out of anger Choi stabbed the turtles.

The incident came to light when the hospital’s hostel manager noticed 10 turtles had sunk in the pond, and found seven had been stabbed, with pencils sticking out of their bodies, while three others had stab wounds on their necks. Beside the pool were eight pencils and five bags of bread.

Five turtles died at the scene. The rest were sent to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ centre but one died on the way and the others were later put down due to “catastrophic internal damage”.

Police officers from Eastern district’s anti-triad squad took over the investigation and identified Choi from CCTV analysis and enquiries at the hospital.

Choi admitted upon arrest that he stabbed the turtles out of “impulsive unhappiness”.

A search of his home found 186 pencils, four pencil sharpeners and three pencil cases.

On Friday, Choi pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty to animals, an offence punishable by three years’ imprisonment and a HK$200,000 fine.

His lawyer said in mitigation that Choi never intended to use pencils as weapons or kill the reptiles, and that six weeks in remand had taught him a big lesson over his impulsive act. The lawyer asked the court to impose a sentence that would facilitate Choi’s rehabilitation.

But magistrate Cheng Lim-chi said the case could not be called minor when Choi had “stabbed the turtles to death with cruel means”.

Cheng adopted a starting point of four-and-a-half months in jail, with the term reduced by a third to three months to account for Choi’s guilty plea. - SCMP

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