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Crime in Hong Kong

Judge tells jury in Hong Kong girl’s neglect trial not to let emotion play a part in their decision

Jurors reminded verdict must be based on evidence and not any feelings they have after hearing about seven-year-old’s injuries

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 7:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 9:02pm

A judge presiding over a trial concerning the alleged neglect of a seven-year-old Hong Kong girl has told jurors they must not let their hearts rule their heads when it comes to returning a verdict.

Mr Justice Kevin Zervos’ reminder on Friday came a day after a juror was reduced to tears by photos of Suki Ling Yun-lam, who was left severely disabled after a heart attack caused irreversible brain damage.

During his testimony on Thursday, paediatrician Dr Tsang Yat-ming used a series of pictures to highlight the injuries Suki had suffered, including abrasions, gangrenous ulcers and bedsores normally associated with elderly diabetic patients.

The images proved too much for one juror, who later wrote to the court, with Zervos saying “the evidence yesterday was upsetting for her”, but that “she is able to continue” in the trial of Suki’s mother Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, and father Rocky Ling Yiu-chung, 52.

Wong, also known as Wang Xuexin, is accused of neglecting Suki from April 28 to July 18, 2015, and perverting the course of justice with her husband. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Speaking to all seven jurors, Zervos said on Friday: “I need to remind you, each and every one of you … some of you may be upset … but you are not in any way to base your finding of facts on emotions.

“It is your duty, according to your oath, to return your verdict according to the evidence. If you need a break, let me know.”

It is your duty, according to your oath, to return your verdict according to the evidence
Mr Justice Kevin Zervos

After the judge’s warning, the High Court heard evidence of how Suki may have suffered a “cerebral insult” months before she was admitted to hospital on July 18, 2015. 

The brain injury is believed to have caused “an acute neurological deterioration” that led to lower-limb contractures, and the loss of certain skills.

“What kind of cerebral insult?” Wong’s counsel, Leung Chun-keung, asked.

Tsang said it was “most likely” that Suki suffered a shortage of oxygen to the brain due to suffocation, or cardiac arrest. 

“Some external thing happened, leading to hypoxia,” he said. “So [Suki] Yun-lam lost all previous skills.”

Among those was her ability to master adequate muscle power and use both legs to cross hurdles, as she was shown doing in photos taken by her teacher at the kindergarten which she enrolled at in November 2014.

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

Suki was left bedridden, which led to the development of bedsores, that could also be explained by malnutrition making her too weak to move, Tsang said.

A birth certificate presented by the defence showed Suki was born weighing 3kg, 39 weeks into gestation, at a hospital in mainland China. Seven years later, she measured 14.8kg, two weeks after her hospital admission.

The trial continues.