Baby unconscious after day with sitter, court hears

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 12:00am

A man told an inquest yesterday he found his six-month-old baby daughter unconscious in bed after she was brought home by her mother from a childminder.

Chan Wai-lam was testifying before Coroner Peter White into the death of the baby, Cheuk-Kiu, who was taken off life support last August after being in a coma for four months.

Mr Chan told the hearing: 'When I returned home from work, Cheuk-kiu was sleeping. I tried to wake Cheuk-kiu up by holding and moving her hands, but she was not awake.

'Then I tickled her feet but she did not respond at all. So I called my wife's family and my doctor.'

Cheuk-kiu was taken to Union Hospital the same day, on April 22 last year. She was later transferred to Baptist Hospital for brain surgery before she was admitted to the intensive care unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

She was certified dead after the life-support equipment was removed on August 27.

Mr Chan said he took his daughter to childminder Jenny Kwok Yuk-ling, also the mother of a three-year-old girl, on April 22.

Mr Chan said he had seen bruises and abrasions on his daughter's feet and back weeks before she died.

'Cheuk-kiu seldom cried and she always smiled. She cried usually only when she was injected with a needle for vaccinations. However, she started crying or did not respond when we handed her over to Jenny [the minder].

'About two weeks before the tragedy, I saw some greenish bruises on Cheuk-kiu's back,' the father said.

Police officer Chow Kin-man gave evidence that the minder's daughter, Carmen, had told her during the investigation that the baby had bumped against the floor and the wall the day before she lost consciousness.

Constable Chow said: 'When I asked Carmen why Cheuk-kiu cried, she became silent but then she said the baby bumped against something. Then Carmen pointed at the floor and the wall. Carmen said her mother [the minder] was in the kitchen when that happened.'

Constable Chow described the minder's daughter as a 'rough' child who had pushed her during the questioning.

She said: 'All of a sudden, Carmen pushed me so forcefully that I almost fell backward. She did not show any sign of being upset before she did it. And she smiled after she pushed me.'

The hearing continues today.