Psychiatric patient sets husband alight in flat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 November, 2011, 12:00am


A woman with a history of mental illness doused her husband with kerosene and set him alight while he was asleep at their home in Tai Po.

The man, 70, suffered severe burns over 40 per cent of his body. He was in critical condition last night at Prince of Wales Hospital.

His wife, 66, was arrested and remanded at Castle Peak Hospital.

Police said the man put out the fire by himself, but not in time to avoid severe burns to his head, back, arms and chest.

'We do not know why she burned her husband,' a police officer said. 'She suffers from a mental illness.'

The officer said the couple lived together at an apartment in The Paragon. Police had been unable to interview the woman or her husband because of their medical conditions.

A Social Welfare Department spokesman said the Integrated Family Service Centre in Tai Po had been providing intensive counselling to the couple, who had showed no previous signs of violence.

He said the department had contacted the family and would continue to monitor their needs and provide necessary assistance.

Sarah Ip Miu-yin, a private clinical psychologist, said most patients with mental illnesses had no violent tendencies, but those who suffered from serious psychosis could sometimes attack other people.

'They may have auditory hallucinations,' she said. 'They can feel that there is a voice repeatedly asking them to harm other people.

'They may also have delusions and believe that their family members are the embodiment of the devil and try to do them harm.

'In these circumstances, they could do something drastic.'

Ip said some patients with serious psychosis problems needed to take medication over a long period of time. They could suffer a relapse if they stopped taking their medication during a prescribed course, she said.