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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong father in neglect trial says his own abusive past prevented him from assaulting wife and children

Rocky Ling has denied perverting the course of justice in case that involves the alleged neglect of his seven-year-old daughter

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 6:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 11:02pm

A Hong Kong man accused of assaulting his wife and children before his seven-year-old daughter nearly died from neglect told a court on Friday that his personal experience of child abuse has deterred him from using violence.

Rocky Ling Yiu-chung, 52, also denied he had ever lived with his mainland-born daughter Suki Ling Yun-lam, even after his Shantou-native wife and other children settled with him in Hong Kong in 2012.

Testifying for the first time at the High Court, Ling was responding to allegations made by his co-defendant and now ex-wife Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, who is on trial for neglecting Suki but had instead accused him and said he was the child’s primary carer when she testified last week.

She also claimed that Ling had assaulted and threatened her and her three other children when they quarrelled over money, so she followed his instructions to mislead investigations into Suki’s medical history and upbringing.

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But Ling said: “I had been assaulted by my father since I was a child … That is the reason why I did not want to use violence to solve problems.”

The High Court previously heard Ling shouldered all responsibilities for Suki’s care when he was interviewed by police following her admission to hospital in a state of cardiac arrest on July 18, 2015.

But soon after he told a different story that named Wong as Suki’s sole carer after an officer showed him photos of her injuries, which he said “awakened” his conscience.

The court heard Suki was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage, profound intellectual disability, severe malnutrition, gangrenous wounds and significant wasting that left her capable of only breathing and moving her eyes.

Prosecutors alleged Wong neglected Suki and perverted the course of justice with Ling during investigations. The two have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

On Friday, Ling testified in a slurred speech, with his eyes barely open. The court took frequent breaks between his nodding off and Wong’s complaints of hearing difficulties.

Defence counsel James McGowan said his client Ling was under the effect of heart disease medication.

His testimony revealed an unpleasant childhood: He said he was physically abused by his father and bullied at school, where he did not perform well academically.

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Ling also recalled that his family “seldom” took him out as a child, and admitted that he only visited Wong and the children in the mainland once every six months after they got married in 2006.

The following year, he learned that Wong was pregnant with Suki but he was not present at her birth. By the time he saw Suki for the first time, she weighed about 8kg.

Ling further explained that Suki had never been to his flat in Tsing Yi as she had stayed with Wong’s relative when she first settled in the city. The child was also brought on trips to the mainland without his knowledge.

But his testimony was cut short after Wong reported feeling unwell and called an ambulance.

He will continue on Monday in the jury trial before Mr Justice Kevin Zervos.