Child abuse case puts warden behind bars for seven months

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A 56-year-old guard was jailed for five months and eight weeks on Friday over the Hong Kong Child Protective Society child abuse scandal.

Defendant Lam Mei-po previously pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse or neglect of a child and adolescent in her care.

In the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts, Acting Chief Magistrate Peony Wong Nga-yan highlighted the seriousness of Lam’s crime and said Lam assaulted all three children on the same day. She added that Lam had not been retrained and had dealt with issues of violence on several occasions.

The court heard earlier that Lam assaulted a two-year-old girl “S”, a three-year-old girl “AC” and another unidentified child at the society’s Children Residential Home on Portland Street on December 10 of the year last.

Lam allegedly shoved a water bottle in a girl’s face and stomped on a child’s lower body with his foot while tucking him into bed.

Wong went on to say that she didn’t believe that was how a civilized babysitter would care for children, and Lam should have known her behaviors would hurt children. Lam’s insistence that the victims were unharmed indicates she showed no remorse, Wong pointed out.

Wong noted that the court must send a clear warning to caregivers that there will be serious consequences for child abuse and rejected the probation officer’s suggested sentence of non-jail.

She then started Lam’s prison terms for the three assaults at three months, six months and 21 weeks, respectively. The final prison sentence was reduced to five months and eight weeks after Lam pleaded guilty.

Wong went on to say that sitters play a crucial role in feeding toddlers because the victims, in this case, were placed in the nursing home due to special family needs. The judge added that these victims were not as lucky as other children who could easily express their suffering to their loved ones.

As mitigation, the defense referred to the positive background report and submitted a handwritten letter from Lam, in which she said she had reflected on herself. Lam also said that she will no longer work in the childcare industry in the future and will instead serve as an environmental volunteer.

Lam became a licensed childminder in 2007 and joined the Children Residential Home the following year.

So far, a total of 34 educators have been charged with child abuse.

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