Mother admits starving her son
A judge has condemned a mother of five whose infant son starved to death after she only fed him heavily diluted baby milk, saying the baby had been in a worse state than malnourished children in the developing world.
So Suk-yee yesterday pleaded guilty to one count of mistreating a child. The District Court heard that the three-month-old boy weighed only 3kg when he died, half of what a normal baby should weigh, and had put on just 160 grams since birth.
Counsel for So, 32, said she lived on HK$6,300 per month in welfare and did not have the money to take the boy to a doctor.
But Deputy Judge Adriana Tse told So she did not appear to be malnourished. She said any suggestion So would not have noticed the child's condition earlier was preposterous.
The baby, who did not have a birth certificate and who was not named in court, was eventually taken to Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung on May 5 last year but died 90 minutes later.
At the time of his death, the boy's heart, liver, spleen and many other internal organs had atrophied.
He had been fed infant formula milk but at a concentration of 60 per cent of the usual level, the court heard. The mother had not taken the boy for any medical checks since his birth, except for one vaccination.
She told police she had sometimes given the boy water between meals to try to get him to eat less.
The judge told So she could have sought help from the Social Welfare Department or put the baby up for adoption if she had been unable to cope. She described the baby as being 'skin and bones' by the time he was taken to hospital.
So has two children, aged 10 and 12, with her former boyfriend, and a four-year-old daughter with her husband, from whom she is separated. Her fourth child, a boy aged two, and the victim were the children of her present boyfriend.
Sentencing was adjourned to July 13, pending a background report and mental evaluations. The reports will help determine whether So is sent for psychiatric treatment. The judge also requested a social services report into the two- and four-year-old children.
The infant milk formula had been diluted to this solution from the normal amount