Mother suspected of hacking infant daughter to death moved to psychiatric hospital

Son, 9, taken into care as police search for father; arrested woman may have been suffering from postnatal depression

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 2:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 4:53pm

A 36-year-old woman who was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of murdering her 18-month-old daughter with a meat cleaver is receiving treatment at a government psychiatric hospital in Tuen Mun.

Her nine-year-old son, who escaped the attack as he was attending a tutorial, has been taken into the care of social workers, according to police.

Officers are still searching for the father of the murdered infant Lam Chak-lai, who was found dead in a pool of blood in the kitchen of the family’s Sham Shui Po apartment.

The child had been hacked as many as ten times, mostly on the back of the neck, and a bloody meat cleaver was found in the apartment.

In the wake of the shocking killing, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung appealed to people suffering with emotional problems to seek timely support.

“If people have emotional problems, they should seek help as early as possible. We will do our best to help them,” Cheung said.

The family had been living on welfare money provided under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance scheme, police said.

The Social Welfare Department said social workers would contact the family and their relatives and provide assistance to them.

Assistant Sham Shui Po district commander for crime, Superintendent Suen Suet-ying, said the woman had appeared emotionally unstable and in a “trance” when speaking to officers on Wednesday.

“She told officers that she had killed the baby.” Suen said. “Her speaking was not that coherent. We believe she has some illness, it could be postnatal depression,” Suen told reporters on Wednesday night.

An initial investigation found the woman had no history of psychiatric illness.

Professor Linda Lam Chiu-wa, chairman of Chinese University’s department of psychiatry, said that postnatal depression, if left untreated, could last for over a year after the birth of a child.

The arrested woman and her two children reportedly moved into the flat in Wing Chun House, Wing Cheong Estate in Sham Shui Po several months ago.

The brutal killing came to light at about 6.40pm on Wednesday when the woman called police to say her son was being abducted and was tied up.

When her son rang the door bell of the flat on returning from his tutorial, his mother did not answer, police said. Officers found him standing outside the flat when they arrived.

The infant was taken to Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei at 7.35pm, where she was pronounced dead.

Her mother was initially taken to Caritas Medical Centre in Sham Shui Po. After a psychiatric assessment, she was moved to Castle Peak psychiatric hospital in Tuen Mun.

Suet said police had not received any previous reports of domestic violence involving the family.