Mother who killed baby will get treatment

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am


A mainland woman who attempted suicide after strangling her infant daughter was yesterday sentenced by the Court of First Instance to an indefinite stay in a mental institution.

Lin Jun, 35, was also ordered to receive inpatient treatment for mental illness, including post-natal depression, at the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre.

Lin pleaded guilty to infanticide, admitting she strangled her six-month-old girl, Chung Shi-ya, on March 22 last year out of feelings of frustration and helplessness. The baby was killed at their home on the Shek Lei Estate, Kwai Chung.

The court heard that Lin believed her daughter had become mentally disabled after an accident that had terrified her, but no more details were given.

Lin also blamed herself for being an incompetent mother, because she thought her daughter was smaller than other babies of her age.

Lin had planned to kill herself by leaping off Kwai Tsing Bridge, and was on the point of doing so when a patrolling police officer noticed her and intervened, the court was told.

The incident followed Lin's decision to forgo treatment for her depression because it was too expensive, the court heard.

'I agree with your counsel that this is a tragic case. You would not have done what happened but for the fact that you are suffering from mental illness,' Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling said.

'I myself am a mother. I can fully appreciate what one must feel when she killed her child. I can feel your guilt and remorse,' Barnes said.

Lin's strong desire to have a child was shown by the fact that she became pregnant through artificial means, Barnes said.

The court heard that Lin held a bachelor's degree in English from a Shenzhen university. She had taught at a kindergarten on the mainland before working for a shipping company as a clerk. She met her husband in 2007, and they married in Hong Kong the next year.

In a suicide note to her husband, she said she could not 'let the retarded baby ruin [her husband's] life'. Lin wrote that she did not have the 'slightest survival ability'.

In mitigation, lawyer Diane Crebbin said Lin's husband, who initially supported her after the baby's death, now said he could not forgive her and had filed a petition for divorce.

'She not only lost the baby she wanted very much, she has lost also her husband,' Crebbin said.

A tearful Lin told the court: 'I myself wanted to have the baby very much. But my husband was reluctant at first, and later I [became pregnant] artificially.'

Psychiatric reports showed Lin suffered from severe depressive episodes and mood problems after giving birth to her daughter in September 2010. At the psychiatric centre she has been hallucinating about hearing a baby crying, and troubled by paranoid feelings that other inmates were staring at her, the court heard.

The hospital order was handed down after Lin made an emotional appeal to the court. She said she feared she would be locked up in the hospital for the rest of her life.

Barnes said the Mental Health Review Tribunal would review her condition after a year to decide whether she could be discharged then.