Parents, grandmother arrested on suspicion of child abuse and murder after 5-year-old’s death

PHOTO: Morguefile
PHOTO: Morguefile

Police have arrested the father, stepmother and step-grandmother of a 5-year-old girl who died on Saturday after being taken to hospital from the family’s Tuen Mun home.

The trio were detained on suspicion of murder and child abuse. Several suspicious bruises and scratches were found on the child’s calves, thighs and neck, according to a senior police officer.

“Bruises are all over her body,” Chief Inspector Chan Yan told reporters at a media briefing on Saturday. “The largest wound is as big as 10cm and above.”

Officers went to the house after receiving a report at about 1:30pm that a young girl was unconscious.

The child, whose surname is Chan, was taken by ambulance to hospital and declared dead at 2:30pm. The cause of death has not yet been reported.

Chan said officers had taken a cane, scissors and slippers from the house, items police suspect may have been used to inflict the wounds.

The 26-year-old father and 27-year-old stepmother were arrested at the family’s house in Tuen Mun, along with the latter’s 53-year-old mother, who is also under investigation, according to Apple Daily.

The couple also had two other children — a boy aged 8, the victim’s brother, and a girl aged 7, the victim’s step-sister. The 8-year-old also had wounds on his body and was in a poor state of health, according to Chan.

“You can see from their appearances that the victim and her brother were in really bad health condition. I would describe them as being malnourished,” Chan was quoted as saying.

Chad said the victim had stopped going to kindergarten about two months ago. He said the family had no reported history of domestic violence.

According to Sing Tao Daily, the victim’s brother and stepsister have told police she had been bitten, shaken and tossed into the air at home.

The children told investigators that the grandmother observed the abuse but didn’t intervene.

A police source told the SCMP that it appeared the grandmother had also been involved in the abuse.

“We suspect that the grandmother was also involved in the child abuse. But it is unclear if she was linked to the death of the girl,” the source told the newspaper.

Yvonne Siu Lai-shan, principal of Hing Tak School in Tuen Mun, where the victim’s brother studies in, told the SCMP that the school referred the boy to a social worker in November last year after a teacher found “unusual signs” on his body.

A spokesman of the Social Welfare Department said that while the school consulted about the boy’s welfare, his case was not referred to the department after consultation, the SCMP wrote.

In September last year, Hong Kong’s Education Bureau (EDB) and the city’s Housing Authority came under criticism for failing to follow up on the prolonged absence of a teenage student, whose body was discovered along with his mother three weeks after the pair died in mysterious circumstances.

 *Correction: A previous version of this story stated the girl was found dead at the family’s home. According to reports, the girl was taken to hospital unconscious, she was later declared dead.   

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