Canto-pop singer Dominic Chow Kai-seng left his autistic and epileptic 13-year-old son home alone every night for more than a week while he travelled to the mainland, a court heard yesterday.
Chow pleaded guilty in Eastern Court to neglecting the boy when he went on the trip in June last year. He will be sentenced next month.
The court heard that Chow, 52, his wife and daughter went on a trip from May 24 to June 2. He had arranged for two friends to take care of the boy during the daytime, but knew he would be alone in the family's Happy Valley flat at night.
The police found the boy, who was not named in the hearing, home alone on June 2, after a concerned neighbour alerted the police.
Police found the singer and songwriter's flat in disarray and with a bad smell, with the boy home alone without any adult supervision. The police also had a hard time communicating with the boy - diagnosed with autism and epilepsy - who kept biting himself and laughing.
"This court understands that having a child with special needs can be very difficult," Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai told Chow.
Chainrai acknowledged that Chow had made an effort to get friends to care for his son while he was away.
But, Chainrai added: "You can't leave a child with special needs alone ... there could be accidents."
The boy, Chow's son from a previous marriage, was living with Chow, his present wife and daughter.
A neighbour found the boy outside Chow's flat in Happy Valley, with the door and gate open on June 2 last year.
The boy ran back into the flat, but the neighbour knocked to check out of concern because he had seen the boy running alone on the pavement outside at about 1am a few days earlier.
The neighbour then alerted the police.
The court heard that Chow had arranged for two friends to care for his son, including bringing him food in the morning and seeing him off to school at the bus stop, picking him up after school and caring for him in the evening.
Chow also arranged for friends to stay with his son during the day when there was no school. But his son would spend nights alone on the basis that he would be sleeping, and nothing was done to ensure his son's safety at night.
Chow arrived home later that night and the boy was taken to a hospital where no injuries were found.
Chow told the court that his son was now attending a boarding school, and that he had "no other choice" but to send him there. He still visited the boy.
Chainrai asked for a community services report, a probation officer's report and also a Social Welfare Department report on the boy before the next hearing on May 2.
Chow was granted bail. The musician had no legal representation for the case.
Chow is a veteran singer-songwriter and a music producer. The son of veteran actor Chow Kat, Chow learned how to write music from the "godfather" of Canto-pop, composer Joseph Koo Ka-fai, before building a career in music in the 1980s.
He became the music director for television station ATV when he was 21 and has written more than 300 songs over the years, ranging in genre from pop to jazz and electronic music.
Coming from a classical and rock music background, Chow also worked on film scores and was nominated for best movie theme song at the Golden Horse Film Awards in 1989.