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Crime in Hong Kong

Grandmother arrested for murder of boy, 6, found with strangulation marks in Hong Kong love hotel

Police sources say he was suspected to have suffered from a hyperactivity disorder and that his grandmother was his main carer

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2018, 10:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2018, 11:11pm

A Hong Kong grandmother was arrested on suspicion of murdering her six-year-old grandson in a local love hotel early Sunday.

Strangulation marks were found around the boy’s neck.

Police were alerted at 12.54am that the boy had fallen into a coma at the Beverly Hotel in Wan Chai.

The child was sent to hospital but certified dead at 2.28am, a police source said.

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Chief Inspector Wan Kai-ming said a length of strapping believed to be from the grandmother’s backpack was found at the scene.

Police sources said the woman, 52, had taken the boy on a tour of Hong Kong Island and had checked into the hotel because they were both tired.

It is understood that the killing took place in the hotel, which is located in the Capital Building on Lockhart Road, and the pair checked into their room late on Saturday afternoon.

The boy was from a single-parent family. He lived with his mother and grandmother in Yiu On Estate – a public housing complex in Ma On Shan, Sha Tin, according to police sources.

A police source said the boy was believed to have suffered from a hyperactivity disorder. “His grandmother took care of him most of the time because his mother had to work.”

Wan added that it had yet to be proved whether the boy or grandmother had a mental disorder.

Shiu Ka-chun, the social welfare sector legislator, attacked the government for its lack of support for carers on his Facebook page.

“Government, please stop saying that ‘even one tragedy is too much’ because it’s simply hypocritical,” Shiu said in his post.

Ignored, overburdened and at risk of burnout – what can be done for Hong Kong’s carers?

The lawmaker listed three shortcomings of the existing welfare system: no policies to look after carers; a low Community Care Fund allowance for carers, which also required a means test; and respite services only for those caring for elderly people.

Last year, there were at least three cases of murder involving carers, including one where a 34-year-old man with a mental condition was suspected of killing his bedridden mother before jumping off a building in what was believed to be a failed suicide bid.

Taking care of a child with ADHD is like trying to control a moving car without a brake
Phyllis Chan, Queen Mary Hospital psychiatrist

Police were still questioning the grandmother last night.

Psychiatrist Phyllis Chan Kwok-ling said taking care of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was like trying to control a moving car without a brake, and that looking after those below the age of 12 could be especially trying for adults.

“They are usually super energetic – jumping and running around at home or in public areas with a relatively low sense of danger. They have lots to say but little patience to listen. They need much longer time to finish their homework because they cannot focus. Their academic performances can fluctuate greatly because their memories are often short and attention to details is lacking,” Chan, the head of child and adolescent psychiatry at Queen Mary Hospital, said.

“They might go on a rampage not only physically but also verbally. They might interrupt people or utter some inappropriate comments without thinking, which could make them seem pretty annoying and offensive.”

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Chan said doctors usually avoided prescribing drugs to children below the age of six unless the disorder reached a moderate or serious level. Treatment would involve seeing a child psychiatrist but at public hospitals, the wait to see one could be over a year, according to Hospital Authority figures from 2016/17.

Without timely and proper treatment, up to half of children with the disorder would end up displaying antagonistic behaviour, Chan said.

Hong Kong students with special needs not properly supported by government education system

The Social Welfare Department said the boy’s family had been a client and a social worker “has been providing support in terms of children’s welfare”.

The government has increased funding to kindergartens to subsidise therapy sessions for special needs children but in mainstream primary schools, they only pay for a full-time coordinator to organise therapy and psychiatrist sessions for pupils.

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An Education Development Bureau spokesman expressed sadness over the boy’s death.

“The school he was attending has activated a crisis management group to follow up on the incident. The bureau will remain in close contact with the school and provide necessary support,” the spokesman said.

Additional reporting by Danny Mok