Hong Kong teenager sent to rehabilitation centre for ‘cruel’ punishment of child, 6, accused of theft

Court hears child was forced to do 750 squat thrusts after he was accused of stealing phone, bracelet and cash

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 4:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 10:56pm

A Hong Kong teenager who harshly punished a six-year-old child over a suspected theft was sent to a local rehabilitation centre on Wednesday after a court heard he had been raised in a broken home by abusive parents.

Lam Tsz-nok, 17, was the first person to abuse the boy on October 11 last year before his sister, mother and her friend joined in because they suspected him of stealing a phone, bracelet and HK$200 in cash.

The boy was staying with them at the time as Lam’s mother was paid HK$6,000 a month to babysit him.

Kowloon City Court heard Lam first used a lighter to burn the boy’s hand and asked him to do 700 squat thrusts while nobody was at home.

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When the boy refused, Lam dragged him into the toilet and pressed his head down in cold running water.

The boy eventually completed 750 squat thrusts while he was still wet, but that did not stop Lam from placing the heated metal part of a cigarette lighter on the child’s face.

Earlier this month, Lam pleaded guilty to two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one of common assault.

Sentencing reports found Lam did not suffer from psychological illnesses or show any violent tendencies.

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His defence lawyer revealed he was born into and raised in a broken family, where his mother had four children from three relationships.

The lawyer said that, despite these relationships, Lam did not receive any fatherly care and was physically abused by his stepfather.

He was absolutely wrong in his use of corporal punishment
lawyer for Lam Tsz-nok, 17

The teenager kept his head and eyes down as magistrate Veronica Heung Shuk-han read reports and letters submitted in his mitigation.

“He’s not a bad person,” his lawyer said. “He was absolutely wrong in his use of corporal punishment on a six-year-old boy, but that was the result of his [experience] in a broken family.”

That was accepted by the magistrate who described the abuse as “cruel”. But she noted that his parents’ methods may have had a bad influence on him.

She hoped a rehabilitation programme would help correct his attitude so he could tell right from wrong.

“A rehabilitation centre is good for you and beneficial to society as well,” she said.

Lam’s mother and her friend were previously jailed for six months over the abuse, while his sister was bound over for 18 months.