Woman and ex-husband found guilty in Hong Kong neglect trial over treatment of her ‘corpse-like’ daughter, 7
Verdict reached in case of girl left brain-damaged, bedridden and capable only of breathing and moving her eyes
A woman who deprived her seven-year-old daughter of medical treatment and starved her till she became “corpse-like” and irreversibly brain-damaged was found guilty of neglect on Wednesday, after a 48-day trial punctuated by episodes of tears and drama.
Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, was also found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice, with her ex-husband Rocky Ling Yiu-chung, 52, convicted of one count under the same charge.
The panel of seven jurors at the High Court arrived at the verdict after five hours of deliberation. Prosecutors argued during the trial that the couple had lied to authorities about Suki Ling Yun-lam’s health to cover up Wong’s crime, with a juror bursting into tears after being shown pictures of the child’s feeble state.
“In terms of neglecting a child, it’s the worst case of its kind,” presiding judge Mr Justice Kevin Zervos said, describing the girl as being left “as good as dead”.
“She has been denied a life...she is not going to live a life, this poor child,” the judge added.
The pair lowered their heads when they were pronounced guilty.
Wong, also known as Wang Xuexin, was a mainland Chinese migrant who moved to Hong Kong in 2012. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail for neglect. For each count of perverting the course of justice, the pair face up to seven years behind bars. Zervos will hear their mitigation on Thursday.
The trial was constantly interrupted by the defendants’ requests for medical help, including a dramatic episode when an ambulance was called to the court building in Admiralty.
During the trial, the court heard that Wong, from Shanwei, Guangdong province, married Ling in 2009. She moved to Hong Kong in 2012 with three of her four children, initially leaving Suki behind.
The couple separated a year later, and Wong brought Suki to Hong Kong in 2014.
A vice-principal from the local kindergarten Suki attended testified in court that the child was “smart”.
She performed well in mathematics and drew pictures with the words “Daddy and Mummy I love you” even before teachers taught her how to write the complicated Chinese character for “love”, the trial heard.
But Suki started missing classes in 2015. Teachers saw bruises on her face and noted that she was walking with a limp. She was last seen at school on April 28 that year.
On July 18, Wong took her daughter to the emergency department of Yan Chai Hospital, where she was found to be suffering from cardiac arrest. The child appeared “pale and without a pulse” upon arrival.
The doctor who treated Suki told the court he recalled a nurse at the triage station shouting: “What? A corpse?”
After two weeks of medical care at the hospital, Suki weighed only 14.8kg, according to staff.
She was subsequently diagnosed with irreversible brain damage and a “profound level” of intellectual disability. The girl is now capable only of breathing and moving her eyes.
During the trial, the court heard that the mother told police officers and social workers that her daughter was born prematurely and had congenital defects, in a bid to stop them from investigating the matter further.
Her husband claimed he had supported her version of events as Wong had threatened to harm his family.