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Crime in Hong Kong

Father and stepmother face murder charge after Hong Kong girl, 5, dies in suspected child abuse case

Her two siblings are now under the care of social workers and medical staff

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 4:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 1:07pm

The father and stepmother of a five-year-old girl who died in Hong Kong last week were charged with one count of murder on Monday.

On Saturday, the girl was rushed to hospital unconscious and covered in bruises, some as wide as 10cm, all over her body. She was certified dead upon arrival. Some of her wounds were older and had been infected.

The man, 26, a transport worker, and the woman, 27, a housewife, would face the murder charge in Tuen Mun Court on Tuesday, police said.

Parents arrested on suspicion of child abuse after girl, 5, dies in Hong Kong hospital

The step-grandmother of the girl, who was arrested for suspected child abuse on Sunday, was likely to be released on bail pending further investigation, a police source said.

The girl’s two siblings – a boy, eight, and a half-sister, seven – were being cared for by social workers.

The source said the boy was malnourished and also had bruises, wounds and swelling.

“He weighed about 40 pounds (18kg) when found. Cane marks were among fresh and old injuries found all over his body,” the source said.

Some of the wounds might have been caused by scissors or slippers, the source added.

He said the boy was receiving treatment in hospital and his condition was not life threatening.

The source said police would discuss the welfare of the two children with social workers and hospital staff.

The Post understands that the dead girl’s paternal grandmother wants to take care of the other two children.

Suspected child abuse death to be treated as murder, Hong Kong police say

The case came to light on Saturday when the girl, surnamed Chan, was taken unconscious to Tuen Mun Hospital, where she was declared dead. The kindergarten pupil lived with her father, stepmother and two siblings in a Tuen Mun flat. She has not been to school since October.

According to sources, the family moved into the flat several months ago.

On Monday, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said the case was upsetting and a review might be required of follow-up work for suspected child abuse incidents.

“We will look into what we can learn from this case, in particular for schools, NGOs and also the Social Welfare Department – whether their communication and collaboration can be enhanced,” Law said.

“We will definitely look into the issue of whether there are sufficient resources to deal with such cases, and also consider the support given to teachers and school social workers, to see if anything can be strengthened.”

Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service, which operates the kindergarten the girl attended, said in a statement that staff were deeply saddened by the incident.

The organisation said a parent had indicated to the kindergarten in November a plan to withdraw the girl from the school. The statement did not specify any reasons for the withdrawal.

“The parent said the child’s condition was satisfactory. Teachers also saw no abnormality with the child,” the statement read.

The parent officially filed an application for withdrawal last month. The kindergarten then reported the case to the Education Bureau.

Lutheran Social Service said its social workers would provide counselling to any parent or child in need. It was also working to facilitate the follow-up work of the Education Bureau and police, it said.