A Hong Kong couple were handed life imprisonment sentences Tuesday over the murder of their young daughter three years ago.
Pleading in court, the 30-year-old father, a transport worker, admitted that he had meted out excessive corporeal punishment, according to HK01.
The stepmother, also 30, said she was under extreme pressure from having to handle housework and being ignored by her stepchildren, but that she was willing to bear the responsibility for the tragedy.
Their daughter was five years old when she died of a bacterial infection in 2018. Her immune system, weakened from years of physical abuse, succumbed to the illness.
According to prosecutors, the parents frequently starved and beat her and her then eight-year-old brother to the point that their wounds affected their daily functions like sitting and walking. He survived the abuse but was found with 128 injuries on his body. His sister had 133.
In August 2017, months before her death, the stepmother texted her husband saying she was “close to killing” their five-year-old because she did not wring a wet towel dry.
“Do it,” he replied at the time.
The woman’s mother, who also lived with them, was jailed for five years for child cruelty. During her plea, she said that she loved the children but was unable to stop her parents from abusing them.
The 56-year-old suffers from mental illness and was on medication, which may have affected her judgement, HK01 reported.
Tuesday’s sentencing caps one of Hong Kong’s most horrifying cases of child abuse. The tragedy has led to calls for a more effective reporting system in schools whereby teachers must alert authorities to suspicions that students may be enduring abuse at home.
According to South China Morning Post, kindergarten teachers and a social worker had noticed the two children’s injuries, but action was not taken to prevent the ongoing abuse.
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