COURTS

Maid assault case: defendant 'too weak' to splash helper with hot water

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2014, 3:42am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 July, 2014, 9:08am

A former civil servant was not capable of splashing hot water on her Bangladeshi maid in the way the helper described because of her poor physical condition, medical experts told the District Court yesterday.

Au Wai-chun denies causing grievous bodily harm to Begum Raksona by pouring scalding hot water down the maid's T-shirt. Raksona suffered first-to-second degree burns to her chest in the incident at Au's flat in Bauhinia Garden, Tseung Kwan O, on September 30, the court has heard.

Medical professionals who had treated Au said she suffered from multiple physical limitations. Moving her wrists and elbows in the way required to tip the cup of water over would be impossible, they said - even when she was not holding a cup.

"The action would require her to make an extension to her wrists. It also requires her elbows to [rotate her palms upwards]," physiotherapist Wong Yin-hing told the court. She could only turn her wrist 25 degrees and rotate her arm 40 degrees, he said.

Dr Poon Tak-lun, a specialist in orthopaedics, said after seeing the cup involved that the defendant lacked the strength to spill water from it.

"The cup is rather tall," Poon told the court as he held up and checked the item in question. It appeared similar to an insulated travel mug.

Poon said Au was so weak that there was no equipment in his office capable of measuring the strength of her arms. He resorted to asking Au to grab his index and middle fingers tightly so he could gauge the force, a technique he said doctors commonly used when equipment failed.

Au, who claimed to have been showering when Raksona suffered her injuries, has worn a neck brace every day of the trial.

The court heard that she suffered a host of physical ailments. She experienced chronic pain to her limbs and back due to bone spurs, and had cervical spondylotic myelopathy, a condition of the spinal cord that caused severe pain to her neck.

Prosecutor Matthew Chong Chun-sang asked Poon if there was a chance Au had lied about the pain. Poon replied: "From my experience, I can tell whether she's using her full strength or faking it."

He described Au's arm and thigh muscles as "thin" and said she was unable to walk steadily.

Poon said he first met Au in 1992, and her condition had not improved since then. The trial will continue before Judge Pang Chung-ping on August 7.