A judge warned of a 'worrying trend' of crimes against children yesterday before freeing a mother who fed her family a cocktail of drugs. Mr Justice Peter Nguyen put Ho Miu-chi, 35, on probation for two years saying this was in the best interests of the children. The mother had admitted poisoning her daughter, six, and sons aged 11 and 13, before chopping her husband. They all survived, the Court of First Instance heard. 'The message must go out to society that any parent who administers poison or does anything to harm their children must be looking at a long term of imprisonment,' said the judge. But the judge released the mother to ensure she received help. 'If I decided to sentence you to prison, you would not, when discharged, have the benefit of the supervision, care and guidance of a probation officer to assist you to be rehabilitated and particularly for you to be reunited with your children,' he said. 'It is really that last aspect which has driven me to the conclusion that in the best interests of the children I should accept the recommendation of the probation officer and put you on probation.' Ho committed the crimes on November 8 last year after arguing with her ex-husband over the telephone. She told him: 'If you want us to die, come and collect the bodies,' the court heard. As he hammered on the door of their Tsuen Wan flat she fed her children sleeping pills and pain-killers before taking the drugs herself. She let her former husband, Li Ho-tong, into the flat where she chopped him on the arm. He suffered only a minor injury and the children quickly recovered in hospital. Mr Li is now caring for them under Social Welfare Department supervision.