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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong domestic helper who killed boy, 2, sent to mental hospital indefinitely after court concludes she is ill

  • Arshdeep Kaur, 24, had choked child after claiming she was ‘possessed’ and felt ‘heat’ from her body
  • Psychiatrists who examined her concluded she was suffering from acute and transient psychosis at the time
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 8:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 10:03pm

A domestic helper in Hong Kong who claimed to be “possessed” by spirits when she killed a 2½-year-old boy under her care, was sent to a mental hospital indefinitely on Tuesday.

Deputy High Court Judge Gareth Lugar-Mawson said he was convinced Arshdeep Kaur, 24, was suffering from a serious mental illness in 2016 when she strangled Ekamjot Singh.

The woman claimed she had been under the influence of “something unusual” and “heat coming from her core” when she squeezed the child’s neck and choked him in their Tin Shui Wai home on October 24 that year.

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She pleaded guilty last month to one count of manslaughter instead of murder as prosecutors accepted her judgment was severely clouded by her mental state at the time of the offence.

On Tuesday, the judge sent Kaur, an Indian national, to the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre in Tuen Mun, sparing her from jail and adding it would be in her best interest.

The hospital order, which required an approval from her doctors and the city’s chief executive before she could be released, could also protect society, he added.

“It was a very terrible thing you did, taking the young child’s life,” he told her, calling it an experience which would haunt her for the rest of her life.

But he noted: “I have to bear in mind that when you killed the little boy, you were and still are a young woman suffering from very serious mental illness.”

I have to bear in mind that when you killed the little boy, you were and still are a young woman suffering from very serious mental illness
Judge Gareth Lugar-Mawson

The incident took place just seven months after the helper arrived in Hong Kong, the court had heard. She had been employed to look after Ekamjot.

At about 9.30am that day, two cameras installed in her employer’s home suddenly stopped transmitting, raising the suspicions of the child’s mother, who called a neighbour for help.

The neighbour sent her own domestic helper to check on the flat, but by the time she arrived the baby was already unconscious on the bed, his body cold.

After her arrest, Kaur confessed to the killing, but said: “God knows I did not do it deliberately. I committed this crime due to lost mental balance.”

During interviews with officers, she claimed she woke up that morning with a swell of heat emanating from her body. She then went to the boy’s bedroom, where she held down both his hands with her left hand, and with her right, pressed four fingers against his throat for 10 minutes.

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She said she later tried to wake the boy up but to no avail, and, feeling terrified, switched off the cameras in the home.

She likened the experience to being possessed by spirits. Two psychiatrists who examined her concluded she was suffering from hallucinations, as well as acute and transient psychosis at the time.

In their medical reports, they urged the court to impose the indefinite hospital order.