Hong Kong courts

‘Abused’ girl has profound intellectual disability, Hong Kong court told

Clinical psychologist says Suki Ling showed ‘no meaningful responses’, but is unable to tell if disability result of abuse

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 11:39pm

A seven-year-old Hong Kong girl allegedly abused by her mother to the point of near death was profoundly mentally disabled, a court heard on Monday. 

A clinical psychologist who examined Suki Ling Yun-lam said the girl showed “no meaningful gestural or verbal responses” when called or talked to, and did not respond when her hands were held during assessments conducted after the abuse came to light in July 2015.

However, the psychologist could not determine whether the girl’s functioning had deteriorated since the alleged crimes because there was no information on her prior condition. 

Dr Angela Sze Mei-lun’s assessment was read out in the High Court jury trial of the child’s mother, Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, and father Rocky Ling Yiu-chung, 52. 

Wong, also known as Wang Xuexin, has pleaded not guilty to neglecting Suki between April 28 and July 18, 2015. 

She has denied two further counts of perverting the course of public justice, a charge her estranged husband faces too. He has also pleaded not guilty. 

The court previously heard that Suki was in cardiac arrest and appeared “pale, pulseless and breathless” when her mother carried her to Yan Chai Hospital in Tsuen Wan on July 18, 2015. 

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Dr Mo Pan, who treated her, recalled that a nurse had thought a corpse had been brought to the triage station. 

Mo later found Suki had multiple bruises and cuts, poor skin condition, and contracted limbs. The doctor said limb contracture was a relatively common condition in elderly and wheelchair-bound patients, and could only be explained by chronic immobility and malnutrition, something which in turn can be caused by prolonged illness or abuse.

Mo testified that the mother later explained that Suki had fainted in the bathtub when she went for shower by herself.

The court also heard during the prosecutors’ opening speech that the girl’s father then covered up the mother’s alleged abuse because she had threatened his family if he did not.

On Monday, prosecutor Duncan Percy read out a report from Sze, a clinical psychologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung who, at the request of police, assessed Suki twice. 

The psychologist said in the document dated December 8, 2015 that the girl suffered from a “profound level” of intellectual disability. 

She recorded that Suki showed “no meaningful gestural or verbal responses” when her name was called or when she was talked to, and even when her hands were held. Nursing notes revealed that Suki could not take care of herself.

However, Sze said it was impossible to judge how the girl's functioning had changed over recent years, because there was “no valid or reliable information on her pre-morbid functioning”.

The trial, before Mr Justice Kevin Zervos, continues on Tuesday, with evidence from social worker Helen Cheung Hoi-len of Caritas Hong Kong.