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Crime in Hong Kong

Domestic helper gets suspended sentence at Hong Kong court for assaulting toddler in her care

  • Erlinda Benavidez Organista, 40, bound over for 12 months to avoid two-week prison sentence
  • The maid admitted slapping and pinching the two-year-old. Her lawyer said she had been under stress due to long hours and marital troubles
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 11:04pm

A Hong Kong magistrate on Monday chastised a domestic helper for being “rude and heartless” before giving her a suspended jail sentence for assaulting a two-year-old boy in her care.

Erlinda Benavidez Organista, 40, slapped the toddler multiple times, pinching and punching him, when he refused to be fed at the child’s family home in Kai Tak on December 21, Kwun Tong Court previously heard.

On Monday, Magistrate Leung Ka-kie jailed her for two weeks, suspended for one year following the Filipino’s earlier guilty plea to one count of assault by a person in charge of a young child.

Leung said she had had an opportunity to view the closed-circuit television footage which captured the assault.

“One would find it no doubt rude and heartless,” she said, adding that the helper was picking on someone who was unable to defend himself.

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Organista’s barrister had said the helper had acted out of character due to her demanding employer and marital troubles, but Leung rejected those as mitigating factors, saying that they were not valid reasons.

But she took into account the helper’s deep remorse and her cooperation with the investigation.

The suspended jail sentence meant that Organista was able to walk free from the court.

But Leung warned her to refrain from committing an offence in the next 12 months to avoid going to jail. “I understand,” the accused answered through an interpreter.

When the helper last appeared on December 24, the court heard that the baby’s father first detected the crime after he heard an “unusual” crying noise from his son around noon on December 21.

He was in his bedroom at the flat in One Kai Tak when he heard the crying coming from the living room.

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He checked the CCTV installed in his home and found that the helper had slapped his son eight times in the face. She also pinched his cheek and ear repeatedly and punched his abdomen once, while tugging at his legs more than 20 times.

Organista was arrested after her employer alerted police.

In mitigation, her lawyer had said she was under an immense amount of stress as she was required to work more than 14 hours every day, starting from 7.30am. Her relationship with her husband was also going downhill.

She had been working in Hong Kong since 2011 but had never got into trouble for looking after toddlers. She began her stint with her current family in February, the lawyer said.