Two mainland mothers were jailed for five months after one of them held the other's newborn baby to cover up her seven-month pregnancy to evade border controls aimed at stemming the influx of pregnant mainlanders into Hong Kong.
Both babies may need to spend their first few months of life in jail with their mothers, who told the court that the babies needed breastfeeding and no one would be available to take care of them, Sha Tin Court heard.
Zhang Xueying, 29, and Yang Hongmei, 27, both from Guangxi and married to Hong Kong brothers, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of conspiracy.
The court heard that Zhang held Yang's baby across her stomach to disguise her own pregnancy, saying the child was hers.
Deputy Magistrate David Cheung Chi-wai said their crime was serious when sentencing them yesterday.
'They conspired to defraud and made false claims to overcome immigration restrictions, which originally would not have let [Zhang] enter Hong Kong, with an aim to give birth in Hong Kong,' Cheung said.
Mainlanders who are at least seven months pregnant are denied entry at the border if they cannot prove they have an obstetrics booking at a local hospital.
The policy is designed to stop those without bookings from giving birth in emergency wards.
The women's subterfuge came to light after Zhang gave birth in the emergency ward of the Prince of Wales Hospital in April. The hospital informed the police, and the pair admitted they had lied to immigration officers in Lo Wu in February.
Their defence lawyer said they committed the crime for the sake of their families because of 'ignorance'. If they had known they might be jailed, they would not have done it, the lawyer said.
The deputy magistrate said Zhang's behaviour was irresponsible to herself and her child, as giving birth without a booking posed a danger to both. She had also affected other patients who required treatment at the emergency ward.
When Zhang entered the city in November, medical staff at the immigration checkpoint found that she was 18 weeks pregnant. Zhang said she had no plans to give birth in Hong Kong and was allowed in.
On February 23 when the two women and their husbands entered Hong Kong together, Zhang held her three-month-old niece and told officers her niece was her prematurely-born baby.
The women's sentences were reduced from six months because of their guilty plea.