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Crime in Hong Kong

Hong Kong woman suspected of killing grandson, 6, had suffered from depression and ‘received psychiatric services’

The 52-year-old grandmother has a record of receiving psychiatric services from public hospitals and once told the boy’s mother of her condition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2018, 8:14pm

A 52-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of murdering her grandson in a love hotel in Wan Chai was suffering from depression and had received psychiatric services from public hospitals, sources told the Post on Monday.

The boy, six, was found in a coma at the Beverly Hotel on Lockhart Road in the early hours of Sunday. He was sent to a hospital but was certified dead there at 2.28am.

Strangulation marks were found around his neck and a strap believed to be from the grandmother’s backpack was found at the scene, police said. The woman was arrested and detained for investigation.

A police source told the Post on Sunday morning that the boy was believed to have a hyperactivity disorder.

On Monday, a source familiar with the matter said: “The boy does not have a record of using or queuing for psychiatric services in public hospitals.”

But the source said: “His grandma has a record of receiving such services.”

A police source revealed that the woman had been diagnosed with depression at a public hospital 10 years ago, adding: “Her daughter claimed that the old lady told her five or six years ago that she suffered from depression and had sought medical help.”

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A source from the social welfare sector told the Post that a social worker stationed at the boy’s school – Po Leung Kuk Riverain Primary School in Ma On Shan – had been following up on his conditions and met with his family. “But before any supporting service could be granted, the tragedy took place,” the source said.

The source added that a referral letter from a school social worker might shorten a pupil’s waiting time for psychiatric consultation at a public hospital. “But it may still take about nine months,” the source said.

The boy’s school issued a statement on Monday expressing sadness over the “unfortunate death” of one of its Primary One pupils. “[The school] has called the student’s family … and activated a crisis management group,” it said.

A group of educational psychologists would arrive at the school to provide counselling services for teachers and students in need, according to the statement.

The school said it had told parents of the boy’s classmates about the incident, and asked that they pay special attention to their children’s emotional state.

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Po Leung Kuk, the charity operating the school, declined to disclose whether the boy had special education needs and how he had been supported as the case was under investigation.

Police said the grandmother had taken the boy on a tour of Hong Kong Island and checked them into the Beverly Hotel on Saturday afternoon. She lived with her daughter and grandson in Yiu On Estate – a public housing complex in Ma On Shan, Sha Tin – and was the boy’s main carer.

A Social Welfare Department spokesman said the family was a client of its integrated family services. The boy had been assisted by a social worker of an outsourced NGO and there was no record of abuse.

The family had been shown how to improve communications between parent and child, the source said.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Labour and Welfare Casper Tsui Ying-wai said the case highlighted the need to strengthen support for parents of children with special needs.

Tsui said the government would look into the need to increase resources and manpower in the planning of children’s services, as well as how to intervene in critical cases at an earlier stage.

The government also announced in the budget last month that the number of parents resource centres to support children with disabilities or special needs and their parents or carers would be increased from six to 13.