Two Hong Kong women who engaged a tertiary level student to perform witchcraft with the sacrifice of small live animals such as rabbits and rats were sentenced to 120 hours of community service on Friday, according to local media reports.
Oriental Daily said that the pair — Kwok Wan-hei, 29, and Lau Wing-ki, 32 — earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit cruelty to animals each.
The court was told that animal welfare activists last August found an Instagram user promoting services to sacrifice living animals, such as rabbits and rats, as part of a ritual to improve interpersonal relationships, with prices starting at HK$15,000 (US$1,914).
The user who provided the services is 19-year-old male tertiary level student Tong Chuek-him.
Both women visited him for relationship issues, with Kwok and Lau paying him HK$52,000 and HK$12,000, respectively, in total.
The defense made a plea for leniency, saying that the two defendants are remorseful and have learned a big lesson.
Kwok’s lawyer also submitted a psychiatrist’s report, which proved that she was suffering from severe depression at the time.
While she used an inappropriate method to deal with her emotional problems, she is now remorseful and eats a vegetarian diet for 10 days a month, the lawyer added.
Lau’s lawyer pointed out that she had broken up with her boyfriend of more than 10 years and committed the crime to change her love fortune.
In sentencing, magistrate Veronica Heung said she believed that the incidents were one-off and that the defendants committed the offenses due to emotional problems at the time.
She said the chances of repeat offenses are not high in the future, so she sentenced each of them to 120 hours of community service.
Tong, a student of the Institute of Vocational Education, was given a rehabilitation center sentence earlier after pleading guilty to nine counts of animal abuse.
Another customer, Choi Ching-ning, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty and was sentenced to 120 hours of community service.