Caregiver quit after seeing care home colleagues stick tape on residents’ limbs and nipples, Hong Kong court hears

Two staff members charged with common assault, two others charged with obtaining computer with view to dishonest gain

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 8:22pm

Staff at a Ma On Shan care home stuck adhesive tape on mentally disabled residents under their care and – in one case – pasted it on the occupant’s nipples as an apparent punishment for refusing to sleep, a former staff member told a court on Tuesday.

But a defending barrister suggested at Sha Tin Court that the tape was part of a strategy staff at the Neighbour Advice-Action Council Harmony Manor used to distract those displaying disruptive behaviour.

Testifying on Tuesday, former caregiver Mok Kit-yee recalled how the incident, involving two men and one woman, unfolded on the night of January 5 this year, just when the newly hired employee was about to finish work.

She testified that red tape was pasted on the limbs of one of the two occupants and in a cross shape on the nipples of the other.

Two caregivers, Chan Ma-lee, 28, and Tam Cheuk-yu, 24, are facing common assault charges for their treatment of Wong Fei, 32.

Two others, Seto Man-yuk, 25, and Philips Ng Kin-ho, 28, are charged with obtaining a computer with a view to dishonest gain for taking photos of 24-year-old Tran Wai-kin.

All four, who were on duty on the day, have denied the charges.

In her testimony on Tuesday, Mok said that although she had been at the care home for only a few days, she quit the day after allegedly witnessing the incident, after lodging a complaint with a senior.

“I was disappointed by the working environment,” the witness said, adding that care homes were meant to look after those who needed assistance.

“At the very least, bodily discomfort should not be caused [to them],” she said.

On January 5 at about 9pm, she recalled, she heard a commotion coming from a room when she was about to end her shift.

When she looked into the room, she said, she saw three staff members allegedly putting tape on the two occupants, who appeared frightened.

She said the one with tape put on his limbs tried to resist. Although he did not cry out loudly, she said: “On his face a very scared expression could be seen”. The other was less scared, but tried to dodge, she said.

She believed the tape was meant as a punishment for the two, one of the reasons being their failure to sleep.

However, Mok said she was too new to be able to name the alleged perpetrators or victims.

In cross-examination, barrister Byron Tsang, for Chan, suggested the resident with adhesive tape on his limb suffered from autism and displayed disruptive behaviour.

The adhesive tape was a method called “target shifting” to divert the resident’s attention, he argued. Mok said she did not know.

Senior counsel John Reading, for Tam, said when the tape was put on the other resident, he did not appear upset.

Mok agreed, but added the resident still appeared scared.

The trial continues before Magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei on Wednesday.