Girl, 7, ‘corpse-like’ after abuse from mother, Hong Kong court hears
Man claims wife hinted at harming his mother if he exposed her, and prosecutors add that she made him write statement consistent with her version of what happened to their daughter
A seven-year-old girl who suffered at the hands of her mother was in cardiac arrest and described as corpse-like by hospital staff, a Hong Kong court heard on Friday.
The girl’s father said he covered up for his estranged wife’s abuse because she threatened his family if he didn’t.
The decision landed the father, Rocky Ling Yiu-chung, 52, in the dock, prosecutors said at the High Court, where he now stands accused of perverting the course of justice.
The girl, Suki Ling Yun-lam, did not die. But prosecutors did not disclose her condition now or her whereabouts.
In testimony about Suki’s condition, Dr Mo Pan, who treated her in hospital, recounted that a nurse had thought the girl was beyond rescue when her mother, Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, carried her to Yan Chai Hospital on July 18, 2015. Prosecutors argued Wong seriously neglected the girl.
Wong, also known as Wang Xuexin, was a teacher in her native city of Shantou in mainland China before moving to Hong Kong in 2012. The couple separated in 2013, a year before their daughter came to the city from the mainland.
Wong pleaded not guilty to neglecting Suki between April 28 and July 18, 2015, and one further count of perverting the course of public justice.
The two denied a further joint count of perverting the course of public justice.
Prosecutor Duncan Percy said Ling told police his wife once angrily threatened him: “Your mother is 80 years old. If anything happened to her, what would [you] do?”
Ling, fearing for his mother’s safety, wrote down Wong’s words and submitted it to police, Percy added.
The prosecutor said that Suki appeared normal when she was still attending the Salvation Army Fu Keung Kindergarten in Kwai Chung between late 2014 and 2015, despite increasing signs of abuse. Her last school appearance was in April 2015. She was taken to Yan Chai Hospital three months later.
Mo testified on Friday that the girl was in cardiac arrest, appearing “pale and without a pulse” upon arrival.
“What? A corpse?” Mo recalled a nurse shouting at the triage station.
Mo later found Suki had multiple bruises and abrasions, poor skin condition, and contracted limbs. The doctor said limb contracture was a relatively common condition in old age and wheelchair-bound patients. It could only be explained by chronic immobility and malnutrition, in turn caused by prolonged illness or abuse.
When asked what had happened, Mo further recalled the mother explaining tearfully that Suki had “anorexia nervosa” – an eating disorder – for a long time but had not received medical treatment.
“[Wong] said anorexia nervosa, which is a very specific term,” the doctor added. “I didn’t doubt her answer.”
But prosecutors argued this was one of several lies Wong and Ling told a series of doctors and social workers.
The mother also told Mo that Suki had gone to take a shower before she was found collapsed in the bathtub. The doctor expressed doubt over this claim, saying he believed the girl could barely move her joints.
Mo further revealed a discrepancy between what prosecutors asserted was the truth and what Ling told authorities.
When the father arrived at the hospital, Mo vividly remembered him pointing at Wong and saying: “Everything was this woman’s fault.”
But prosecutors said in subsequent interactions with police, doctors and social workers that he had stuck to Wong’s explanation, including that Suki was born with birth defects even though none had been documented.
Percy said that Ling decided to come clean after being shown photographs of Suki’s physical state.
It was then he disclosed the threats from Wong, claiming that she once told him: “Watch your family.”
Ling also said that Wong also told him to take the fall so she could be acquitted, arguing he was only facing a trivial offence.
On September 13 that year, Wong made him write a statement consistent with her version of what happened to their daughter, which was submitted to police, Percy said.
The trial continues on Monday before Mr Justice Kevin Zervos.