Two adoptions and an abandonment: you are not fit, mother told

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2007, 12:00am

A 24-year-old woman who had given up two newborns for adoption was jailed yesterday after she admitted abandoning her third child after giving birth at home.

Private tutor Yip Sze-wan put her son, along with the placenta and some clothes, in a box six hours after she delivered him in her bedroom on May 5. She then abandoned him outside a grocery store near her home in Tuen Mun.

The premature baby, who has now been adopted, was found unharmed the same day, Tuen Mun Court heard yesterday.

Magistrate Kwok Wai-kin described the defendant as 'only a little better than mothers who strangled their babies', and jailed her for eight months saying her actions should be 'harshly denounced'.

The petite woman with a ponytail wept as she heard the ruling, after the magistrate rejected her mitigation that said she had been driven by 'confusion after being in labour and was afraid of condemnation from her family'.

The mother pleaded guilty to a charge of exposing a child whereby life is endangered, which has a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

Mr Kwok rejected the idea of a rehabilitation sentence, saying imprisonment was the only option for the woman, who he dubbed a liar and irresponsible mother.

'I won't believe that you were confused. You could have put him up for adoption like you did twice before. You do know how to deal with this ... but you chose not to, and worse, you were unwilling to do so and opted for a simpler solution, ' he said. 'You left him there unattended and then returned home. You didn't care if he was dead or alive. It is fortunate that he survived with no harm.'

Mr Kwok also castigated Yip for placing the child at risk by not going for prenatal examinations.

The baby was born prematurely in an unhygienic environment, and when she abandoned the baby, Yip had no knowledge of the state of his health, the magistrate added.

'A mother's love for her children is more than carrying them in her womb ... the other part is to love them, raise them and guide them in their life.

'You have become a mother for the third time and you have never fulfilled your responsibility.'

Yip submitted a mitigation letter to the court yesterday saying she was remorseful and was living with guilt over her confused and immature behaviour.

She pleaded for a chance to redeem herself, and promised to seek professional assistance after a probation report stated she was immature and had limited knowledge of sexual and social matters. But the magistrate disregarded her plea.

The court heard that police conducted a door-to-door inquiry after the incident and found the defendant, who confessed to the crime under interrogation.

She told police she had discovered she was pregnant in October 2006 by a man she had met five months before. He had left and her family had not known about the pregnancy.

She had breastfed her son once before abandoning him at the grocery store in the same village where she resided with her family.