• Constable Chow Hop-chun opts not to testify in own defence as lawyer says he swapped fake for HK$425,000 original to buy time after misplacing watch
Constable Chow Hop-chun (front) leaves the District Court during his criminal trial. Photo: Brian Wong

A Hong Kong policeman who swapped a HK$425,000 (US$54,200) Rolex watch turned in at a station for a counterfeit made a mistake but did not commit a crime, his lawyer told a court on Wednesday.

The District Court also heard that Constable Chow Hop-chun, 28, who has pleaded not guilty to one count of theft, had opted not to testify on the third and final day of his trial.

Chow's lawyer, Eric Kwok Tung-ming SC, said the constable had never intended to take the blue-faced Rolex Daytona for his own. Rather, he tried to buy time to search for the timepiece he said he misplaced, right after a member of the public handed it in at Cheung Sha Wan Police Station on June 26, 2017.

Chow Hop-chun's trial lasted three days and his verdict is expected on October 9. Photo: Fung Chang

At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Danny Chan Kin-keung said Chow did not immediately hand over the watch to the exhibit office as required by standard procedure.

Instead, he took a fake Rolex with a black dial from his locker, and told another policeman in the exhibit office it was the watch that had been turned in.

The court heard Chow tried to submit an endorsed closed envelope containing the fake Rolex to the exhibit office, but was told the watch should have been put inside a box first. He later returned with another closed envelope storing the real watch, but without an endorsement from a duty officer.

On Wednesday, Kwok told the court Chow was "distracted for a moment" when he attended to other matters after receiving the watch, and later forgot where he had put it.

"When he was worried about the lost Rolex, he tried to buy himself some time by using his own fake watch as a temporary replacement," Kwok said.

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Kwok said Chow attempted to buy more time by deliberately not putting his fake watch in a box when he was told to hand it over immediately " knowing it would not be accepted by the exhibit office.

Kwok also said his client lied to his superior about the colour of the real watch, because he was worried the latter would be critical of him and "leave nasty records" on his file.

"Chow might have drawn suspicion upon himself, but everyone makes mistakes," Kwok said.

Judge Katherine Lo Kit-yee is expected to deliver her verdict on October 9.

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