A 14-year-old boy kept in solitary confinement for six days at a boys' home had his human rights violated, a magistrate said yesterday. Kwun Tong magistrate Tsang Fan-hoi ruled that the teenager did not have to answer to a charge of attempting to escape from O Pui Shan Boys' Home, Lai Chi Kok, in August since it was questionable whether he should have been held. The boy has now been moved to another boys' home. He had been kept in a room inside a dormitory for six days for being the suspected ringleader of a late-night disturbance. He had been sent to the home in December after violating parole for car theft. He was held in solitary from August 6 until he attempted to escape from the home on August 11. The magistrate said the imposition of such 'separation' treatment far exceeded what was authorised in the Reformatory School Ordinance. 'It is clear that the way the accused was living at the time was a form of illegal imprisonment which violated the ordinance,' he said. 'Therefore, in law, the alleged crime of attempting to escape from legal custody does not really exist.' Mr Tsang said another reason for the acquittal was the web of confusion surrounding the decision to order the boy's detention. 'During the trial, I found the home's superintendent, Tsang Pui-ching, to have a half-baked knowledge about the well-being of the accused after it was arranged for him to live separately from the rest,' the magistrate said. 'She said the boy was moved to solitary on the recommendation of her lower-ranking colleagues at the home who, in turn, denied in court that they knew about the boy's detention.' Outside court, the boy's relatives were delighted with the ruling. 'We are extremely happy because the little boy won't have the rest of his life ruined by this case,' his father said. 'We can proudly say that justice has been restored.' Legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan, who had been following the case, said keeping juvenile inmates in solitary confinement without records was common. He would pursue the matter in Legco. The Social Welfare Department, which operates the schools, said last night it had taken note of public concern surrounding the case. 'The department will examine existing practices and procedures in respect of segregation so that similar cases can be handled better in future,' a spokesman said.