Mother on trial in Hong Kong for neglecting daughter, 7, tells court other three children were healthy and good students
Mandy Wong alleges for first time that her husband and co-defendant assaulted her and the same three children ‘on many occasions’
A woman on trial for neglecting her seven-year-old daughter to a state of near death in 2015 told a Hong Kong court on Monday she had raised her three other children to be healthy and do well at school.
Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, also alleged for the first time at the High Court that her husband, co-defendant Rocky Ling Yiu-chung, 52, had assaulted her and the same three children “on many occasions”. Wong further said Ling had fed them expired tinned food before their mainland-born daughter, Suki Ling Yun-lam – the victim in the present case – reunited with them in Hong Kong in 2014.
But Wong, also known as Wang Xuexin, confessed on her first day of testimony that her memory had been affected by “a traffic accident in December 2005”, which she said happened because she was “really unhappy” when she thought about what had happened to Suki.
Her counsel, Leung Chun-keung, immediately clarified: “Are you referring to the [traffic] incident in 2015?”
The trial centres on how Suki was treated. She was born in February 2008 and admitted to hospital on July 18, 2015, in a state of cardiac arrest. It took doctors 10 minutes to resuscitate her.
She 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.
Prosecutors alleged Wong neglected Suki from April 28 to July 18, 2015, and perverted the course of justice with her husband during police investigations.
The two have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
On Monday, the defence began presenting its case to a seven-member jury, with Wong testifying in a barely audible voice as she slouched in the witness box.
Her counsel presented to court photos and academic records of the other three children.
“My three children have very good academic results,” Wong said. “They are in good health. All three of them are class monitors.”
But Mr Justice Kevin Zervos asked why it was necessary to have such evidence.
“It’s relevant to her character,” Leung replied. “The defence is saying she is a good mother.”
Wong continued: “School teachers and principals said [the three children] are good-looking, in good spirits, and they listened to instructions.”
Leung also drew the court’s attention to his client’s relationship with Ling before Suki came to Hong Kong.
Wong said she married Ling in 2006 after he told her he was known as a “young lord” in Hong Kong who owned a handbag factory. The couple had Suki in 2008 and a son in 2009, adding to the twin daughters from Wong’s first marriage.
She recalled that Ling would visit her about once a year on the mainland and give her up to HK$1,000 on each occasion before she came to Hong Kong in November 2012 with all the children but Suki.
The family stayed in public housing and relied on government subsidies, but Wong said they struggled to make ends meet as Ling did not provide her with sufficient funds to raise the children and gave them “expired tinned food and steamed buns” for meals.
“We were living a bad life in Hong Kong,” the Shantou native recalled tearfully.
After she told a social worker about her financial concerns, Wong testified, Ling swore at and attacked her and the children with kicks and punches as well as threats, holding a knife to her neck and a pair of scissors to her tongue.
“He said, ‘Do you dare to tell the social worker?’” Wong continued. “We were on our knees begging him [to stop].”
Wong and her three children moved out in April 2013.
Her testimony continues on Tuesday.