Tutor fined $2,000 for beating girl with wooden ruler

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 June, 2006, 12:00am

A tutor who beat a nine-year-old girl with a wooden ruler for not doing her homework was fined $2,000 yesterday.

Tsoi Shuk-kan, 38, spanked the girl's hand 200 times on one day and 100 times on another. When she tried to hide or cry, Tsoi beat her arms, thighs and cheek, the victim said, hitting her so hard that the 46cm ruler snapped in half and left the youngster with bruises.

Tsoi faced a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $50,000 after pleading not guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

More than a dozen mothers and their children, who had sat through the trial in support of the tutor, broke out in cheers and tears when Eastern Magistrate Winston Leung Wing-chung passed sentence.

Tsoi said the girl's mother was aware she had been administering corporal punishment and had encouraged her because she could not discipline her daughter.

The magistrate said he felt it 'uneasy and upsetting' to pass sentence on 'a good, responsible and respectable teacher' whose duties were 'difficult and unflattering'.

'This is a task that many parents don't know how to do or are unwilling to do ... they then rely on tutors to teach and discipline them on their behalf. But one cannot expect to teach a good student with spanking ... that is simply unacceptable in the modern world.'

The girl told the court that before the offences - which were committed in July last year at a tutorial centre in North Point - she was used to being spanked by Tsoi and another teacher with a ruler to her hands when she misbehaved in class or forgot to do her homework.

The defendant, a mother of two, admitted she spanked the girl's hands despite being well aware that corporal punishment was against the law. In her defence, she said she only hit her pupils with the consent of their parents.

She described the girl, from a single-parent family, as 'smart but guileful' who often failed to do her homework.

She also said she gave the girl a lecture before each spanking but she forgot how many times she hit the pupils, nor could she explain the bruises the girl sustained to her face and limbs.

The bruises, including an obvious one on her right cheek were discovered by her schoolmates and reported to the school's principal at about 1pm during an assembly on the same day.

Her lawyer said Tsoi was remorseful at the 'unfortunate event' but she continued to be well-liked by many of her students and parents. 'Her intention was good but the execution was unlawful.'

Some 46 mitigation letters were submitted to the court.