Mother accused of neglect was ashamed of disabled daughter, Hong Kong court hears
Social worker who worked with family since 2013 says the accused was ‘a responsible and hardworking’ mother except when it came to her seven-year-old girl
A mother accused of neglecting her seven-year-old to the point of near-death was afraid to admit she had a daughter with disability when her three other children were “good looking and very smart”, a court heard on Tuesday.
The family’s social worker found that “children were of paramount importance” to Mandy Wong Wing-man, 42, but also observed that the accused mother of four was “strange and unreasonable” when caring for her youngest daughter, Suki Ling Yun-lam.
“I saw that [the mother] had very strong and good bonding with the three children,” Helen Cheung Hoi-len of Caritas Hong Kong said. “Except Ling Yun-lam.”
Cheung testified against Wong, also known as Wang Xuexin, and her husband Rocky Ling Yiu-chung, 52, who were both accused of perverting the course of justice after the mother allegedly neglected Suki from April 28 to July 18, 2015. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The social worker recalled that she first took up the family’s case of financial and matrimonial problems by referral from the Social Welfare Department in June 2013 and went on to conduct some 20 face-to-face meetings, six home visits and 30 phone calls.
Throughout, Cheung was given the impression that Wong was “a very responsible and hardworking mother”.
But she said there was little mention of Suki, whom she was told was raised in the mainland, until she received a call from Wong on July 23 and learned that the girl was in hospital five days earlier in a serious condition.
The next day, Cheung visited Suki at Yan Chai Hospital, where the girl had been admitted in a “corpse-like” state of cardiac arrest.
“I was very shocked after I saw the child,” Cheung said slowly. “How come she was that thin?”
When asked why Wong had kept Suki’s condition in the dark despite the available medical help, Cheung recalled the mother said she “did not want to trouble” her.
Wong later suggested that Suki’s condition would improve after drinking fish soup at her grandmother’s home.
But Cheung said she wondered: “The person was in the intensive care unit in that state, how could she be helped by using this method?” The social worker broke down into tears as the interpreter translated her testimony. The court gave her a five-minute break.
Suki’s case was reported to police after a multidisciplinary case conference on August 12.
Two days later, Cheung recalled: “[Wong] told me that she believed she had high self-esteem.
Therefore all along she was afraid to admit that she had a daughter with disability because the three other children were good looking and very smart. That’s the reason why she dare not tell others.”
But she later agreed to a suggestion from Wong’s counsel Leung Chun-keung it was “possible” that she might not have said it.
“Did it appear that [Wong] wanted to do something to help Yun-lam?” Leung said.
Cheung replied yes.
The jury trial continues on Wednesday before Mr Justice Kevin Zervos.