A mother who left her four-year-old son alone at home to go gambling in Macau was put on 12 months' probation yesterday.
Cheung Kwai-mui, a 40-year-old housewife, went to Macau when her four-year-old son was asleep at home on the Shek Yam Estate, Kwai Tsing, last month. The boy called police when he woke up the next morning and found his mother was absent.
Cheung, who was divorced last year and remarried, turned herself in when she came back to Hong Kong that night.
She pleaded guilty to a charge of mistreating or neglecting her child earlier this month. It was not the first time Cheung had left her son alone at home. She received a binding-over order last time, and the recent incident violated the conditions of that order.
Acting Principal Magistrate Timothy Casewell, sitting in Tsuen Wan Court, said the court would not pursue the case further.
The boy was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital for a check-up after the incident and was found to be in good health.
He is now under the custody of the Social Welfare Department and being taken care of by the Po Leung Kuk children's charity.
Speaking outside court after the sentencing, Cheung said: 'I am very regretful after I lost my son.'
In mitigation, Cheung's lawyer said she had been under great stress since her divorce and had to take care of her son alone. Her second husband's whereabouts were not divulged.
The judge ordered Cheung to attend courses to help her give up gambling. She will also have to attend interviews with probation officers in the coming year and inform them of changes to her address or job.