Death of 14-year-old autistic boy who fell from disabled home was an accident, court rules

The West Kowloon Law Courts Building. Photo via Hong Kong government’s Information Services Dept.
The West Kowloon Law Courts Building. Photo via Hong Kong government’s Information Services Dept.

The death of a boy who fell from the third floor of a disabled care home almost five years ago was an accident, the court ruled on Tuesday.

The 14-year-old, who had autism and a moderate intellectual disability, was living at Bridge of Rehabilitation, a care facility, in Kwai Chung at the time of the tragedy.

On an early evening in August 2016, neighbors found the boy lying unconscious in a back alley of Man Shing Building, where the home is. He was declared dead at the hospital.

Investigators believed that the accident happened when the boy tried to escape after removing the window grille in the building.

According to HK01, the privately-run home was severely understaffed, causing the children’s needs to often go neglected.

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Staff did not make sure that residents ate at meal times, and the home was so dirty it had mice running around, said a 70-year-old woman whose grandson stayed at the same home for less than a year before she pulled him out.

The then-director of the home, Lau Kit-sum, testified in court last week that the home did not have working CCTV cameras installed at the time because police “took away the whole system” in 2014.

She also said that the 14-year-old had self-destructive tendencies, and that she had informed his family about them. When she said this, the boy’s mother yelled through her tears, “No [you didn’t]!”

Lau said the boy was moved from a shared room to a single rom due to his problematic behavior, which included hiding feces in a bucket.

Referring to the boy’s death, Lau said “nobody wants accidents to happen” but that she had “done a lot for him.”

In court Tuesday, the jury recommended that the government should provide training for staff at care homes, and that staffing should be increased.

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