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Crime in Hong Kong

Mother attacked her son’s teacher with pesticides because she was unhappy with school, Hong Kong court hears

  • Defence argues single mother of two under lot of pressure to raise her boys, including autistic younger son
  • Psychologist said mother’s chance of reoffending is extremely high unless problem is managed
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 4:50pm

A Hong Kong mother who attacked her son’s teacher with pesticides because she was unhappy with the school’s methods was on Tuesday placed on 18 months’ probation.

The woman, whose name has been withheld to protect her child, sprayed the chemical in her victim’s face as the teacher was greeting pupils at the school hall on September 3. She was placed on probation by the Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Court.

The teacher, who was a disciplinary mistress at the school, was sent to hospital with redness in her eyes despite her attempt to block the attack with her hands.

Her attacker pleaded guilty last month to one count of administering poison or other destructive or noxious things with intent to injure, an offence punishable by three years’ imprisonment.

Prosecutors had argued the attack was premeditated, revealing the mother had long been dissatisfied with the school’s teaching methods. She had refused to let her younger son attend classes from February to April in protest against what she considered unfair treatment.

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The defence countered the mother had only carried the tin of pesticides with her because she was out for a morning walk that day. It also argued in mitigation the woman, as a single mother of two, was under a lot of pressure to raise her boys, especially the younger one who had learning difficulties.

Pre-sentencing reports ordered by the court revealed the mother had a bad relationship with her autistic younger son.

But the mother’s lawyer clarified on Tuesday they had a good relationship, despite it being difficult due to the boy’s increasingly violent behaviour in the past two years.

Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai said the greatest mitigation was the mother’s guilty plea, which reflected her remorse.

She also noted the mother had committed the offence out of genuine concern for her son.

“She may love her son but that is no excuse for what she did,” the magistrate said.

She may love her son but that is no excuse for what she did

“It must be emphasised to her that she cannot use a tin of pesticides to spray someone else when she is not happy.”

A psychologist said the mother’s chance of reoffending was extremely high unless the problem was managed.

Chainrai eventually adopted the probation officer’s recommendation to place the mother under 12 months of supervision and increased it to 18 months, after the mother indicated she would be willing to get help.

The mother was also ordered to receive psychological and psychiatric treatment, accept social work intervention and attend groups and programmes directed at her rehabilitation, during the period.

She will report back to court in three months, on February 13.