A Hong Kong construction worker has been spared jail after he admitted punishing his intellectually disabled daughter with six slaps on the face and back for urinating on the ground.
The 31-year-old father of three was instead sentenced to 1½ years of probation at Eastern Court on Friday for child abuse relating to the assault at a Sai Ying Pun flat on August 2 that left the girl, seven, hospitalised for almost two weeks.
The accused earlier admitted beating the girl, his second eldest child, in an outburst of anger after she urinated on the ground and on a toilet seat cover. His wife discovered bruises on the girl’s face and back that evening. He was arrested a week later.
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The father had a record of child abuse, having previously been bound over for 1½ years for attacking his eldest son, eight, in 2019.
He pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of wilful assault by those in charge of a child or young person – an offence punishable by three years’ imprisonment when tried before a magistrate.
A duty lawyer representing the father said the man had been under immense pressure taking care of his three children while his wife worked during the day.
The defendant had a job as a construction worker at night to help make ends meet.
Despite medical advice to abort the girl during pregnancy due to a possibility she might have Down’s syndrome, a condition marked by physical and mental development delays, the defendant and his wife were reluctant to give up on the child, the court heard.
The couple moved to Taiwan and Shanghai after the girl’s birth, but had difficulties raising her due to a lack of social support, and decided to return to Hong Kong. They had a distant relationship with their parents and could not hire a domestic helper to do household chores.
A background report said the father had received corporal punishment from his parents at a young age, which played a part in how he treated his own children. A probation officer concluded the defendant lacked parenting skills and committed the present offence out of impulse.
On Friday, Magistrate Daniel Tang Siu-hung accepted the officer’s recommendation and put the father on probation, during which he would receive mandatory psychiatric and psychological treatment.
Tang warned the defendant that the offence was very serious and he could be jailed if he failed to follow the probation officer’s instructions.
The girl is now living in a boarding school for teens with special education needs.