Mother jailed for six years over son's starvation death

Updated: 2012-10-30 06:39

By Fan Feifei(HK Edition)

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A woman has been sentenced to six years in prison over the death of her three-month-old son from malnutrition, after being fed heavily diluted milk.

Magistrate Pang Chung-ping condemned the woman's treatment of the infant as "extremely cruel".

Pang criticized the accused for her failure to give the baby proper nourishment over a protracted period, leading to death by starvation. Nor did the mother seek medical assistance for her ailing baby, Pang pointed out.

He said the 32-year-old mother So Suk-yee had no care for the baby, even before he was born, as demonstrated by the fact that she underwent no prenatal examination, failed to take out a birth certificate after the baby was born, and did not have the infant vaccinated. The defendant attempted to deny the charges, blaming the infant for having poor food absorption.

Pang countered that any person, with any humanity, would not stand aside while the baby's condition deteriorated, let alone the biological mother. He rejected the defendant's plea that she had low intelligence, noting that So lived independently, as a normal person and suffered from no mental disability or disorder. Pang said he found no conditions to merit commutation of sentence, and sentenced So to a six year prison term. He added any adult who neglected taking care of children must bear criminal responsibility, and it is not controversial that the parents must look after their children. Pang said he hoped a longer sentence would have a deterrent effect on other parents, as a safeguard for helpless children.

The defendant has five children and lived on the government's Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme. The lawyer for the defendant put forward the background and psychological report of the defendant, indicating the defendant still regularly visited two of her children living in Po Leung Kuk, showing she has a loving heart and feels guilty over the death of her son.

The Magistrate said the defendant presented a risk to re-offend and has an attitude of denial. Her argument that the baby had poor absorptive ability and that she had insufficient income, demonstrated that So had no remorse, Pang said. He acknowledged the defendant had admitted to feeling shame and guilt, and had promised that she would never allow another child to die in a similar manner.

Evidence showed that the woman's youngest son died in May, last year. His birth weight was a normal - 2.85 kilograms. He weighed only 3.01 kilogram when he died, half the average weight for children of the same age. The forensic report said the boy died of starvation.

(HK Edition 10/30/2012 page1)