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Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Ex-civil servant found guilty of scalding maid with boiling water

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 September, 2014, 4:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 7:28am

A former civil servant has been convicted of pouring scalding hot water over a Bangladeshi maid who suffered burns on her chest.

Au Wai-chun, 61, had argued she was physically incapable of carrying out the assault. The court heard from medical experts that Au suffered from chronic pain in her limbs, back and neck as a result of a variety of ailments.

But Judge Pang Chung-ping found that although pouring the cup of hot water onto Begum Raksona might have caused Au a moment of pain, that did not make the assault impossible.

Pang also rejected the defence’s argument that the fully able-bodied Raksona would have resisted Au, saying the assault could have taken the maid by surprise.

Au had been charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent, to which she pleaded not guilty. But the judge found the prosecution had not proved there was intent, and convicted Au of the less serious charge of occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court had earlier heard that Au asked Raksona for a cup of hot water at Au’s home at Bauhinia Garden in Tseung Kwan O.

Au complained that it was not hot enough, and after a row she poured the water down Raksona’s shirt, the prosecution said.

Defence counsel Judy Ma had suggested that the first-to-second-degree burns on Raksona’s chest were caused by Raksona herself.

Raksona wanted to return to Bangladesh, and was hoping for compensation from Au and Au’s friend Leung Sher-ying, the employer listed on Raksona’s contract, Ma said.

On Monday, Pang said the fact that Raksona was still in Hong Kong – and had already accepted HK$8,000 in compensation from Leung – indicated this was untrue.

Au’s account of the event also did not add up, the judge added, while Raksona had been a “reliable witness”.

But he agreed that Au was, in general, of good character and accepted Ma’s suggestion that probation and medical reports be sought before sentencing Au on September 22.

In a letter handed to the Post outside court, Au wrote that she was confused about the court case, stressing that she had always maintained a good relationship with Raksona.

“Over the past months, I’ve been relying on letter after letter from those who are willing to come forward and to give character reference to support me.

“Regardless of the result, the trust from my family, friends and the medical professionals [who had taken care of me] would be my greatest gain and consolation,” she said.