A Koran volunteer teacher has pleaded guilty to assaulting a 13-year-old boy during a lesson at a Hong Kong Islamic learning centre, which left the pupil with a detached retina.

Pakistani defendant Shahzad Khan, 35, admitted the crime on Tuesday after the Department of Justice sought to change the charge from inflicting grievous bodily harm to assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Both offences incur a maximum punishment of three years in jail.

The charge amendment was approved by Magistrate Minnie Wat Lai-man.

The case note showed that Khan hit the boy’s back three times and slapped him in the face five times after the latter failed to recite a verse in the Koran during a lecture at the Madrassa Taleemul Furqan Islamic Union in Quarry Bay last August 5.

The 13-year-old boy suffered a detached retina and underwent surgery after the assault at an Islamic learning centre. Photo: Edmond So

Khan further punched the boy in his glasses, leaving him with a retinal detachment in his left eye.

The boy later underwent a six-hour operation at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.

Prosecutor Pierre Lui Ming-chun said on Tuesday that the boy’s vision was “still very blurry” and had yet to return to pre-assault levels.

Defence counsel Richard Donald said that while the incident was “so unfortunate”, Khan only wanted the boy to learn the Koran “in a proper way” and “never intended to hurt or harm” him.

Donald added that Khan had shown remorse and was willing to compensate the victim’s family with HK$20,000.

Magistrate Wat indicated that Khan might have to face an immediate custodial sentence due to the serious nature of the case.

“The defendant was out of character,” she said. “The victim is underage.”

She adjourned the case until July 15 to await a medical report on the boy’s latest condition before imposing the sentence.

Meanwhile, Khan is granted bail at HK$50,000 (US$6,396)