Student in UK jailed for attempting bribe

Updated: 2013-04-25 01:30

By Zhang Chunyan in London (China Daily)

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One year behind bars for man, who also carried loaded air pistol

A Chinese student who tried to bribe his professor while carrying a loaded air pistol has received a 12-month jail sentence in the United Kingdom.

Li Yang, 26, an innovation and technology management masters student at the University of Bath, had arranged the meeting with his professor on Nov 23 last year.

On Tuesday, Bristol Crown Court heard that Li placed 5,000 pounds ($7,630) in cash on the professor's table, but when he was told to leave, the gun fell from his pocket.

According to the sentence file, which was provided to China Daily by the court, the judge, Michael Longman, told Li that the weapon caused fear and alarm to the professor.

"You attempted to persuade a university professor to behave in such a way that if it had been successful you would have undermined the integrity of the universities in the UK and the legitimacy of degrees from universities here, the University of Bath in particular," Longman said.

"Your bid to achieve a pass mark by offering what was a bribe to your professor was ill-conceived to the point of being a spectacular mistake and one which was doomed to fail from the start."

The likely release date for Li, who has already been in custody, is Oct 20.

Li, who admitted bribery and possessing an imitation firearm, was also ordered to pay 4,880 pounds in costs.

A spokesperson for the University of Bath confirmed the case with China Daily.

"The student involved was immediately suspended from his studies following this incident and now with the criminal proceedings complete his position as a student here will be resolved through the university's disciplinary procedure," said the spokesperson.

"We have provided support and advice to those staff and students affected by this incident and have worked closely with Avon and Somerset Police and the other authorities involved in the case."

Li had been given a mark of 37 percent in his dissertation, short of the 40 percent pass mark. Professor Andrew Graves, head of the university's School of Management, told Li he could resubmit the 12,000-word essay, appeal against the mark or accept it and withdraw from the course.

But Li told the professor "I am a businessman", before placing 5,000 pounds in cash on the table in front of him.

"You can keep the money if you give me a pass mark and I won't bother you again," Li said.

Graves asked Li to leave but as he put the money away, a replica handgun — loaded with six pellets — fell from his pocket to the floor, the court heard.

As the Guardian reported, Li sobbed in court as the sentence was handed down while his parents, wife and parents-in-law sat in the public gallery.

He plans to return to China with his wife, also a University of Bath student, after his release.

Gilbert Ye, an economics student at the University of Bath, told China Daily that he was upset to read the news online, as the case had a negative impact on the reputation and the teaching quality of the university.

"It's unfair to other students if anyone with money could get a degree without making an effort," he said.

Joe He, 31, a media management student at the University of Middlesex, said she has been personally affected by the scandal.

"The cheating scandal harms the image of the Chinese overseas students. There might be more people questioning our academic ability," he said.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that currently China is the biggest provider of overseas students to the UK with more than 78,000 students.

Susanna Ma contributed to this story.