Baby's death 'unlawful'

A WOMAN who suffered a depressive illness and hallucinations told her husband she had suffocated their 11-month-old daughter with a quilt, the Coroner's Court heard.

A jury returned a verdict of death by unlawful killing on Chan Mei-ki, who died of pressure on the neck at her Tuen Mun home on January 30.

The incident happened less than a month after Mei-ki's family moved to a stone hut and took over the care of the baby from a relative in China.

Mei-ki's mother, Chau Fung-chu, 26, has been a voluntary patient at the Castle Peak Hospital since February and attempted to strangle herself with a pillowcase on February 3.

She had no previous history of psychiatric treatment.

In his summing up, Coroner Rodney Venning said Mei-ki's parents gave two conflicting versions of the incident.

Her father, snack shop worker Chan Kiu-wan, 28, said he rushed home after receiving a call from his wife, telling him their daughter was not breathing and had no heart beat at about 10 pm on January 30. The child died before arrival at hospital.

Mr Chan said Ms Chau had told him a day after Mei-ki's death that she had suffocated the baby with a quilt.

But Ms Chau denied she had said that and accused Mr Chan of having assaulted the baby before he went to work that day.

Mr Chan said the baby was in good health when he left home.

Dr Yiu Gar-chung, of Castle Peak Hospital, told the court that Ms Chau said that in January she began to hear three voices gossiping with each other and talking to her when she was fully awake.

''The voices told her to die or to leave the house with her baby or else something sinister would happen,'' Dr Yiu said.

He said Ms Chau had clouded thoughts about the future of her baby.

''She had thought of suicide and had once nearly cut her own wrist. On the day of her baby's death, she apparently experienced both visual and auditory hallucinations of a similar theme.'' Forensic pathologist Dr Wong Hon-man said he found 14 bruises on Mei-ki's head and neck and 19 other abrasions.