Hong Kong courts

Juror cries as Hong Kong court is shown pictures of injuries suffered by disabled girl

Seven-year-old can only breathe and move her eyes after suffering brain damage caused by heart attack

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 7:34am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 10:57am

A juror was reduced to tears as photos of the injuries suffered by a disabled seven-year-old Hong Kong girl were presented during her parents’ trial in the High Court on Thursday.

Suki Ling Yun-lam can now only breathe and move her eyes because of irreversible brain damage caused by cardiac arrest, the court was told during the testimony of paediatrician Dr Tsang Yat-ming.

Jurors also heard how Suki’s body was covered by abrasions, as well as gangrenous ulcers and bedsores normally associated with elderly diabetic patients when she was brought to Princess Margaret Hospital, in Kwai Chung, in July 2015.

“There is no other thing she is able to do,” Tsang testified. “The brain damage is irreversible. There was no improvement after a long period of admission.”

The seven-year-old’s mother, Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, is accused of neglecting Suki from April 28 to July 18, 2015, and perverting the course of justice with her husband Rocky Ling Yiu-chung, 52. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The High Court also heard that Suki suffered significant muscular atrophy, osteoporosis throughout her skeleton and deep gangrenous wounds by the time she was carried to hospital in a “corpse-like” state of cardiac arrest on July 18.

It took doctors 10 minutes to successfully resuscitate her. 

On Thursday, Tsang took the court through photos of Suki’s condition taken while she was being treated at Princess Margaret Hospital. The images proved to be too much for one juror.

His medical reports revealed Suki weighed only 14.8kg two weeks after admission, despite having received nutrition supplements.

Mother accused of neglect was ashamed of disabled daughter, Hong Kong court hears

She had a limited range of movement, to a point that Tsang doubted if she could “support herself with a hand”, given her “weak and atrophic build” and “very swollen and immobile” joints.

Tsang also explained how Suki’s body was covered by skin abrasions as well as gangrenous ulcers and bedsores – infected by bacteria found only in elderly patients – so deep that one could “readily touch the bone”.

“The wound has to be very poorly treated, very poorly treated,” he said.

Yet Wong’s defence counsel, Leung Chun-keung, repeatedly questioned if Suki’s condition had been exacerbated by her picking at the wounds with her fingers.

The paediatrician noted that Suki was malnourished on admission, but her body height was preserved, which suggested that the period of malnutrition was relatively short, at about two to three months.

However, the brain damage suffered through the lack of oxygen brought on by the cardiac arrest led Tsang to believe that Suki’s “neurological recovery will be grave”.

In one report, he wrote: “[Suki] is likely to be in persistent minimally conscious state, and significant cognitive improvement is very unlikely. The chance to provide statement [to police] is minimal.”

Tsang’s interview with Wong revealed that Suki was born in China, six months into gestation, and required two months of incubator care.

The mother claimed Suki spoke single words when she was three years old, and began to walk at the age of four, but in a “bended and crouching gait”.

‘Abused’ girl has profound intellectual disability, Hong Kong court told

She also told Tsang that Suki had been raised by her grandmother on the mainland, where she slept on a bed with no mattress and consumed mainly congee and milk as her daily diet. She claimed Suki’s appetite had worsened since their arrival in Hong Kong, but she had never been taken to a hospital.

Wong said in another interview, conducted in the presence of a social worker, that Suki was “mute since birth” and had had “self-harm behaviours since she was young”, often pinching, biting or scratching her body, which resulted in multiple wounds.

The jury trial continues before Mr Justice Kevin Zervos.