Police rule out criminal charges over disappearance of baby's body

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am

Police have concluded there was no criminal element to the disappearance of the body of a newborn boy from the mortuary at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in December.

However, Acting Commissioner Peter Yam Tat-wing said yesterday they would seek further legal advice, leaving open the possibility that charges may be filed in relation to other aspects of the case.

'The report will be submitted to the Department of Justice soon to see whether anyone is in breach of the law or should bear criminal responsibilities in other aspects,' he said.

A five-member investigation panel - set up by the Hospital Authority - released its findings on Tuesday, saying a mortuary technician had lied in saying the baby's body had last been seen on December 19.

The report said the baby died on December 15 and went missing from the mortuary some time between December 17 and 19 'unintentionally due to human error'.

Based on the false information the technician provided, police officers searched for the body in clinical waste the hospital dumped on December 20 and 21 at the Tseung Kwan O landfill.

They should have also considered the waste dumped earlier.

The technician was fired on Thursday.

The cost of the five-day operation, between January 12 and 16, totalled HK$70,000.

Mr Yam would not say when police learned the technician was lying.

'Our operation was conducted after professional assessments and analysis,' he said.

The hospital's deputy chief executive, Lau Chor-chiu, said on Friday that police had been aware of doubts about the technician's statements before they searched the landfill.

Dr Lau added that hospital waste thrown out a few days before December 19 was located in a landfill full of asbestos and dioxin waste, and a search in that area 'would be dangerous for surrounding households'.