A 12-year-old boy has reportedly become the youngest person convicted in the Hong Kong protests.
The minor, who cannot be identified, was arrested on his way to school on Oct. 4, the day after he had vandalized locations in the Mong Kok area of Kowloon.
The student pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal damage at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, according to the South China Morning Post.
The charges include vandalism at Mong Kok Police Station and Prince Edward MTR station, which was witnessed by an office in plain clothes.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) August 17, 2019
The officer told prosecutors that the boy, who was wearing a mask at the time, sprayed the words “damn rogue cops” and an obscenity about their families on the wall of Mong Kok Police Station at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3.
After the police station, the minor headed to Prince Edward MTR station and sprayed “divine annihilation, free HK” on the wall of exit B1.
The officer managed to trace the boy’s residence and waited outside until 7 a.m. the next day.
As the child headed for school, the officer intercepted and brought him back home, where a bottle of black paint and items of clothing were seized.
— Cecil Yuen (@yuen_cecil) November 6, 2019
It was later revealed that the boy, whose parents were divorced, has been living with his 75-year-old grandmother.
“He knows he made a serious mistake,” his lawyer Jacqueline Lam told the court, according to SCMP. “It has been an important lesson to him, as he was detained overnight at a police station after arrest.”
Lam also asked the court to pass a sentence that will not leave the minor with a criminal record, but magistrate Edward Wong Ching-yu reserved the option to impose a probation order, which would leave one.
“I ask the court to give him a chance,” Lam said, according to the BBC. “After all, he’s just 12 years of age.”
However, this is not the first time Hong Kong police have arrested a 12-year-old child. In August, another child was apprehended with at least 30 other people after a night of violence in Tsuen Wan district.
As of Nov. 18, Hong Kong Watch, a U.K.-based organization monitoring threats to the city’s basic social freedoms, noted 4,491 arrests since June, the youngest of which was 11.
The convicted 12-year-old will return to court on Dec. 19 for his sentencing.