Student jailed for £5,000 attempt to bribe professor over failed dissertation

'I am a businessman': desperate Yang Li took along imitation firearm

A failing student who offered his professor £5,000 in cash in a bid to pass his degree was jailed for 12 months today.

Desperate Yang Li, 26, had a loaded replica gun and the money in his pocket when he went to meet his professor at the University of Bath.

The Innovation and Technology Management masters student had been awarded a 37 per cent mark in his dissertation - three marks off the 40 per cent needed to pass.

Bristol Crown Court heard Li arranged to meet Professor Andrew Graves, head of the University's School of Management, to discuss his options after the result.

Professor Graves, who marked the dissertation, told Li he could resubmit the 12,000 word essay, appeal the mark or accept it and withdraw from the course.

But Li, who admitted a charge of bribery and possessing an imitation firearm at the court, told Professor Graves "I am a businessman" before placing £5,000 in cash on the table in front of him.

The court was told Li added: "There is a fourth option, you can keep the money if you give me a pass mark and I won't bother you again."

Professor Graves asked Li to leave but as the student put the money away, a replica hand gun - loaded with six pellets - fell out of his pocket and on to the floor.

Judge Michael Longman told a weeping Li that the weapon caused "fear" and "alarm" to the respected professor at the meeting on 23 November last year.

The judge said: "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.

"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."

Judge Longman sentenced Li to 12 months in prison for the bribery charge and six months to run concurrently for a charge of possessing an imitation firearm in a public place.

He ordered married Li, who comes from an "affluent" and "respected" family in China, to pay £4,880 in prosecution costs and a £120 surcharge.

Prosecuting, Mark Hollier said: "The final part of the course is for students to submit a dissertation of about 12,000 words. That had to be in by the first week of September. Mr Li's dissertation was submitted that September last year.

"It was marked by Professor Graves. The pass mark is 40 per cent and the mark awarded was 37 per cent ."

Li's dissertation mark was checked by external examiners from Oxford and Cambridge University and found to be correct, Mr Hollier added.

Defending Li, Blake James said Mr Li came from an affluent family in China, where his father is a respected government official and businessman.

Mr James said Li was not a "sham student" and had come to the UK in 2006 for a Computer Science degree at the University of Bath, which he passed.

Documents show Li was progressing well in his masters course until he failed the dissertation, he said.

At the time of the final module, Li was working for his father's firm, earning £25,000 a year with a bonus of £11,000, as well as studying.

"When he learned of the result of the dissertation it was a bitter blow to him," Mr James said.

"He genuinely felt he had done alright."

Mr James said Li was concerned he would not be able to move from his expiring student visa to a Tier 1 visa without passing his course. His current visa has now expired.

He said Li was used to carrying large amounts of cash and had the 0.177 air pistol, used for shooting practice, on his possession as he did not want to leave it in the car during the meeting.

Li sobbed in court - where his parents, wife and parents-in-law sat in the public gallery - as the sentence was handed down. He plans to return to China with his wife, also a University of Bath student, after his release.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before