Birth agent coerced by police to admit cheating doctors, lawyer says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 3:23am

An insurance broker accused of helping pregnant mainland women lie to doctors in order to obtain maternity spaces at Queen Elizabeth Hospital confessed under coercion from police, her lawyer said yesterday.

The allegation was made by Paul Francis, for Lo Hiu-yin, who is on trial in Kowloon City Court on four counts of conspiracy to obtain services by deception.

Lo, 36, pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing. The trial is expected to conclude today.

Magistrate Lee Siu-ho heard that Lo had been running a lawfully operated business with her husband to assist mainland women obtain obstetric services in Hong Kong.

But four of Lo's clients, Sun Xiaoli, Gao Xiaoli, Xu Manlan and Zhou Xifeng - all two-way permit holders - gave birth in June and July 2011 after supplying fraudulent documents claiming their due dates were in November 2011, records provided by Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei showed.

Earlier that year, the hospital had given public notice that it would have no more bed spaces available for non-local women with due dates on or before October 31, 2011, prosecutor Betty Fu Yuet-yee said.

In a videotaped interrogation by West Kowloon police shown in court, Lo was seen admitting to helping the women lie to a doctor in order to get letters providing false estimates of their due dates.

"After getting the bed spaces, it wouldn't matter if they went to the hospital to give birth earlier because the hospital would still accept them," she told police.

The doctor who provided the letters, Dr Wong Chit-sin, told the court he had not examined the women because he was a general practitioner, not a gynaecologist.

"It wasn't appropriate for me to conduct physical tests," he said. "I calculated [the women's] expected delivery times by asking them for information on their last menstrual period."

Francis accused West Kowloon police of extracting involuntary statements from Lo.

"They told her that … if she admitted to escorting the women to the doctor, she would be released, and even if she was charged, she might only get a fine," Francis alleged. Police officers who handled the case will be cross-examined today.