Mentally ill mother strangled three-year-old girl so she ‘would not be like her’, Hong Kong court hears
Incident took place when mother, 32, lost control and squeezed daughter’s neck
A mother suffering from schizophrenia strangled her three-year-old daughter because she did not want the girl to end up like her, a Hong Kong court heard on Wednesday.
The incident took place in a Fanling flat on February 1, 2017, when the mother, Meera Mahajan, 32, lost control and squeezed her daughter Sanvi’s neck.
The mother, who began to suffer from mental conditions in 2008, later told police that it was “good” that Sanvi died, as she “did not want the deceased to be like her”, prosecutors said.
Mahajan pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter on Wednesday.
High Court judge Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping issued a hospital order, and sent Mahajan, an Indian national, to Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre in Tuen Mun. She would only be released after her condition improved.
Mahajan’s defence counsel Diane Crebbin said it was a “tragic case” that had split families, with which the judge agreed.
“It resulted not only in the death of the young child, but also affected her [Mahajan] and her husband’s lives and their families in India,” the barrister said, adding that the husband was no longer in contact with Mahajan.
Senior public prosecutor Derek Lau said Mahajan moved to Hong Kong in 2013 after her husband, an engineer, had secured a job in the city.
Having previously suffered from other conditions, her mental state deteriorated rapidly in the months leading up to the tragedy, and she began hearing voices saying, “You are ugly. You are useless”.
On February 1, she called her husband, telling him that she had strangled their daughter. He rushed back to their flat at Cheung Tak House in Cheung Wah Estate, but it was too late as the girl was already unconscious. Sanvi was taken to North District Hospital where she was certified dead.
After her arrest, Mahajan initially told police she pressed her daughter’s neck because she thought the girl’s breathing was blocked, with a view to making her breathe again.
But she subsequently admitted that she felt aggressive and suddenly lost control of her anger at the time. Psychiatrists concluded that she was suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the offence.
The court heard that before moving to Hong Kong, Mahajan had suffered from depression and bipolar disorder when she was in India and Singapore.
Her condition would improve when she was on medication, but she would repeatedly plunge back into relapses when she was off the pills, the court heard.
Her brother flew in from India to lend his support.
Crebbin said Mahajan’s family members knew her as a “wonderful and loving” mother when her condition was stable.
“That’s probably the most tragic part of the case,” she said.