A single mother was placed on 18 months' probation yesterday after she admitted leaving her three young children at home unattended because she said she was out job-hunting and borrowing money from friends.
The case came to light when her eldest son, aged seven, had not returned to school a week after the summer holidays ended and a counsellor visited the Cheung Sha Wan home to find the boy and his two siblings, aged five and three, on their own.
Mother Chan Wai-shan, 31, pleaded guilty to three counts of cruelty to a child.
Principal Magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung said the defendant's reasons for leaving two young children in the sole care of their elder brother were just 'excuses', but he accepted the recommendations of a probation report, in which the defendant expressed her remorse. He warned her that if she reoffended, her three children would be taken into care.
The court heard that the mother had allowed her eldest son to stay home since September 3 because he refused to get up and she had no time to take him to school.
The counsellor telephoned on September 11 to check on the boy, and his youngest sister answered the phone and said her brother was sleeping and there was no adult in the home.
Their mother was later arrested for child abuse and explained to police that she was out borrowing money from friends and trying to find a job because she did not want to continue supporting the family on welfare.
Her children told police they were left unattended at home often.
Medical reports said the children displayed no signs of physical abuse.