‘Psychiatric medication’ found in flat of Hong Kong man suspected of killing his elderly mother
Son who survived leap from 16th-floor flat remains in intensive care
A 34-year-old man who was accused of murdering his bedridden mother before jumping from a 16th-floor flat in a suicide bid on Sunday was a psychiatric patient at a Hong Kong hospital and received his last consultation 11 days ago before the brutal killing, the Post has learned.
The mental condition of the man was described as “stable” when he had the consultation at the West Kowloon Psychiatric Centre in Lai Chi Kok on September 27.
It was understood that he was given medication and his next appointment was scheduled for February next year.
The Post understands the man is a psychiatric patient at the Kwai Chung Hospital. But it is unclear how long he has been receiving treatment. The West Kowloon Psychiatric Centre is one of the hospital’s psychiatric outpatient centres.
Police have said they will assess the mental health of the businessman, who runs his own property management service company.
“We will check his medical records as part of our investigation,” one police source investigating the killing that took place at Shing On House in Kwai Chung, said.
On Monday, the man’s condition had improved from critical to serious, but he remained in the intensive care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital.
“He is conscious but unfit for an interview,” a police source said, adding that the man was being guarded by officers. He had not been arrested.
The murder case, the third this year in which a carer has been involved, has highlighted the poor community support for the city’s carers.
Around noon on Sunday, the man was found lying on the slope outside Shing On House at Kwai Shing Estate. Police believed the branches of a tree broke his fall after he leapt from his home.
Officers broke into his flat and found the body of the man’s 77-year-old mother, nearly decapitated, in bed. She was bedridden and suffered from kidney illness and diabetes.
Another police source said she had still been alive when the family’s two domestic helpers left home on Sunday morning.
On Monday, the city’s No 2 official, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, pledged to carry out a thorough investigation into the incident.
“We will get to the bottom of the story and interview [the two domestic workers] to find out what exactly has gone wrong, and why did the family not approach the Social Welfare Department for assistance,” Cheung said on Monday.
He said the department had no record of the family applying for care services.
Social work specialists warned of a higher risk of similar cases in the future if effective reforms are not introduced soon to make public services more readily available.
Census statistics show that Kwai Ching, where the tragic case took place, was the second most aged district in Hong Kong. Among 520,672 residents in the district, 16.7 per cent – close to 87,000 – were aged 65 or older.
Carlos Ng Hung-fai, convener of the comprehensive family service concern group under the Social Workers’ General Union, said adults now in their 30s and 40s are often under pressure to look after both their young children and old parents at the same time. They also have fewer siblings to share the burden with than the generation in their 50s and 60s.
Existing public services for the elderly are not helping their exhausted carers at all, said Ng Wai-tung, a senior officer at the Society for Community Organisation.
According to Ng, senior citizens with multiple chronic diseases are usually barred from publically
funded services and carers from low-income families are often denied living allowances, if the elderly fail to be recognised as physically impaired at a moderate or more severe level by the Social Welfare Department. As of the end of August, more than 3,700 elderly residents, evaluated as fragile enough to receive services from community day care centre, had to wait 11 months on average according to the Department’s statistics.
Both Carlos Ng and Ng Wai-tung said more competitive salaries were needed to boost the supply of care services, which often involves heavy and unpleasant work, such as moving the elderly from beds to bathing chairs every day and cleaning up after them.
The median salary of care workers in elderly service was HK$12,000, around the same level of security guards and waiters, according to the Labour Department.
Cheung has pledged that the government will strengthen its elderly care services – helping the elderly stay in their own homes and increasing the number of places at elderly centres.
He also promised to enhance short-term residential care services for the elderly, which aim to relieve pressure on family members.
In June, an 80-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of killing his chronically ill, disabled wife aged 76 in a bid to end her suffering.
In February, a 56-year-old woman with dementia was believed to have been strangled with a belt at home before her husband killed himself.