Hong Kong courts

Brain-damaged Hong Kong girl ‘quite smart’ and able to play with friends before hospital admission, teacher tells neglect trial

Kindergarten vice-principal testifies that seven-year-old Suki Ling Yun-lam was ‘able to walk, talk and play with her classmates’ when she last attended the school

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 7:44pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 10:41pm

A seven-year-old Hong Kong girl, diagnosed with profound mental disability after she was admitted to hospital in a near-death state in 2015, was considered “quite smart” by her kindergarten’s vice-principal, who recalled in court that she could respond quickly when spoken to.

Chan Wan-ho also testified that Suki Ling Yun-lam was “able to walk, talk and play with her classmates” when she last attended the Salvation Army Fu Keung Kindergarten in Tsuen Wan on April 28, 2015.

But when Chan next saw Suki, the young girl was in the news and it had emerged that she was carried to hospital in a “corpse-like” state after suffering from a cardiac arrest on July 18, 2015.

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The High Court previously heard that Suki was subsequently diagnosed with irreversible brain damage, profound intellectual disability, severe malnutrition, gangrenous wounds and significant wasting that left her capable of only breathing and moving her eyes.

The girl’s mother, Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, was 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.

On Monday, Chan recounted how she first met the child at her admission interview in November 2014, during which Suki could write simple Chinese characters as well as the numbers from one to 10.

“She was able to write her name, and while I was talking to her, she was able to have an exchange with me in Cantonese,” Chan said of the mainland-born girl. “My conclusion was she was suitable to study K3. She gave me an impression that she was quite smart.”

“Why do you think she was smart?” Wong’s counsel Leung Chun-keung asked.

“Because when I talked to her or when she was told to write down the characters or numbers, she responded very fast,” Chan replied.

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Suki was registered as a K3 student a week after her application was submitted on November 4, 2014.

But the kindergarten’s attendance records revealed that teachers saw very little of her as she only attended 27 days of school, including the day she dropped out in April 2015.

Chan said the school “showed concern” by asking the mother about Suki’s whereabouts, and was told that Suki had been taken back to the mainland to be raised by “someone else”.

Her testimony also revealed that Suki, along with her classmates, had accepted refreshments such as milk bread and buns provided by teachers, and she was not known to refuse the food offered or be “a picky eater”.

The jury trial continues on Wednesday before Mr Justice Kevin Zervos.