Mother jailed for six years for starving baby to death

In handing down a six-year prison term, deputy judge says the woman showed no remorse over her three-month-old boy's death from hunger

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 2:51am

An "utterly cruel" mother who starved her baby boy to death by diluting his milk formula was jailed for six years yesterday.

District Court Deputy Judge Pang Chung-ping said the sentence imposed on So Suk-yee, 32, should serve as a deterrent to protect other children. He said society did not tolerate such abominable crimes, which went against human nature.

"The deceased was as thin as a lath and his appearance was horrible. Any ordinary person who looked at the photos would have surely shown sympathy towards him," Pang said.

So, who lives on welfare benefits, has two children, aged 10 and 12, with a former boyfriend, and a four-year-old daughter with her husband, from whom she has since separated. Another child, a boy aged two, and the victim were the children of her current boyfriend.

Pang said So, as a mother, clearly knew the boy was suffering from malnutrition but did not take him to a doctor to receive help. The infant died from hunger caused by So not providing enough food.

Pang said the mother had shown no remorse for the death of the three-month-old, which was caused by "prolonged neglect".

A psychological report said So had denied not giving the baby enough to eat and blamed his death on the boy's poor absorption of food.

So gave birth to the boy on February 8 last year. He weighed 2.85kg but had gained only 160 grams by the time he died three months later.

The baby died 90 minutes after being taken to Princess Margaret Hospital on May 5 last year. He weighed half of what a normal baby of that age should weigh.

The judge said the mother was no different from any other person, even though her lawyer said So's intelligence was a little below average.

"She was born and raised in a normal family. She received education up to Form Three level, and got a job," Pang said.

She was able to follow instructions on the baby formula container and knew there were different ways to prepare different varieties of formula, the judge said previously when he handed down his verdict.

The psychological report said So had poor interpersonal skills, which meant she was likely to commit a similar crime in future.

Two of So's children now live at a Po Leung Kuk children's home while two are in the custody of relatives. Pang suggested the Social Welfare Department consider carefully whether the two children could be returned to So's custody in future.