Girl hurled from balcony in mall

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 February, 2010, 12:00am

A family lunch outing ended in tragedy yesterday when a mother hurled her four-year-old daughter from the seventh floor of a Sham Shui Po mall, before leaping to her death.

The child was saved by a net installed three floors below, but her mother crashed through the net and landed on a stage on the ground floor. She was certified dead at the scene.

Horrified onlookers watched as the girl, suspended four-storeys above the ground, began climbing across the net. They screamed at the girl, urging her to stay still, but she managed to climb to safety with the help of a shopper.

Police have classified the incident as attempted murder and suicide, but the circumstances surrounding the tragedy remained unclear.

The family was having lunch at the Dragon Palace restaurant on the seventh floor of the Dragon Centre. Witnesses said they heard quarrelling, screaming and then a loud bang at about 1pm, after the family had left the restaurant.

But police cast doubts on reports of a row between the couple. 'We were told they were not quarrelling. They were discussing how the daughter should progress with her studies,' Chief Inspector Osbert Chau Hin-hung of Sham Shui Po district said.

The mother, 41, had no history of mental illness and the family had no record of domestic violence, police said. The girl attends a kindergarten and is ready to proceed to Primary One. Her mother was a housewife.

A stallholder surnamed Lee who sells toys on the seventh floor said customers told her they heard a man saying: 'Throw your daughter downstairs if you dare.'

Another stallholder on the fourth floor described how bystanders were terrified for the safety of the girl.

'People shouted 'Don't move!' but the girl did not listen and continued climbing. Everyone was worried she would fall through the hole in the net [made by her mother's fall].'

The girl suffered no apparent injury but was taken to Caritas Medical Centre for observation.