IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 887 OF 2010
Reasons for Sentence
1. The defendant pleaded guilty to one charge of wounding, contrary to section 19 of the Offences against the Person Ordinance, Cap.212. This is an alternative charge to the 1st charge contained in the charge sheet which is one of wounding with intent, contraryto section 17(a) of the Ordinance.
2. The prosecution accepted the defendant’s plea to this lesser charge and the wounding with intent charge was not proceeded with.
3. The defendant is the second of three daughters in the family. Prior to her arrest, she lived with her mother and two sisters ina public housing unit, their father having deserted the family in 1994. The defendant’s 50-year-old mother is the victim in thiscase.
4. The facts admitted by the defendant revealed that around midday on 11 June 2010, the defendant and her mother were alone in theflat. At that time, the defendant’s mother was getting ready to go out for work. The defendant, however, complained to her motherof leaving her alone at home and started to get emotional. Shortly afterwards, the defendant entered into her mother’s room witha pair of scissors and said, “I want you die today.” The defendant then pushed her mother onto the bed and stabbed her oncein the abdomen with the pair of scissors. The mother pulled the pair of scissors out but the defendant then seized it and triedto attack her mother again.
5. A struggle ensued during which the mother’s right hand was injured and started to bleed. The defendant said again, “Now thatyou do not care about me any more, I would rather have you die than to die myself. I want you die today.” The defendant laterdragged her mother out to the living room and had the telephone line unplugged. The mother asked the defendant to reconnect thetelephone line and called the police for assistance. The defendant agreed to do so provided that her mother would tell the policethat her injuries were the result of her own suicidal attempt instead of being attacked by the defendant.
6. While waiting for the police, the defendant changed her blood-stained T-shirt. Upon the arrival of the police, the defendant falselytold the police that while she was sleeping in her own room, she suddenly heard a scream from her mother. She went to check andsaw her mother stabbing herself with a pair of scissors. The defendant further claimed that as she was concerned about her mother’ssafety, she took the pair of scissors out and threw it out of the window.
7. When the defendant’s mother was admitted to the hospital, it was found that there was a small contusion over the left lobe ofher liver which was managed conservatively. Moreover, a 1-centimetre stab wound in the epigastrium; a superficial laceration tothe face; and two 2-centrimetre lacerations to the right hand were found on the defendant’s mother. She was discharged a few dayslater on 14 June 2010.
8. On subsequent examination, it was found that all the wounds had healed and she only suffers from mild wound pain.
9. Reports on the defendant’s fitness to plead were obtained when she appeared in the magistrates’ court. Both reports confirmedthat the defendant is fit to plead and that although the defendant was diagnosed to suffer from unspecified non-organic psychosisin 2004 and was admitted to the hospital for acute stress reaction in 2006, at present, she does not display any psychotic featuresand has no sign of mental disorder.
10. The defendant also told the attending psychiatrists that she has never had any hallucination or delusion. In short, both psychiatristsopined that the defendant has conduct and emotional problems as well as poor impulse control, but she knew what she was doing atthe time when the attack took place and she knew what she was doing was wrong.
11. The defendant is aged 25. She has one previous conviction of theft for which she was fined in June 2007. She was a part-time waitressbefore she ceased working in October 2009. Since then, the defendant remained idle at home.
12. It was said that on the day in question, the defendant had a row with her mother during which she became very emotional and shetherefore stabbed her mother. It was also said that the defendant’s failure to control her emotions was because she did not takethe medicine at that time.
13. Mr Lam who acts for the defendant told the court that the defendant is now very remorseful and she feels shameful. As she has pleadedguilty and her mother has forgiven her, Mr Lam asks for a lenient sentence to be imposed on the defendant.
14. It was also said that the defendant has learned a bitter lesson this time and will take medicine regularly to control her temper.
15. After convicting the defendant, I adjourned sentence to today in order to obtain a background report and updated psychiatric reportson the defendant.
16. The views of the two psychiatrists remain the same and both consider that a hospital order is not required and that the defendantis mentally fit to serve ordinary custodial sentence.
17. This is a tragic case in which the defendant stabbed her own mother with a pair of scissors and caused her injuries. According tothe Summary of Facts, the matter which gave rise to the attack was a trivial one, that is, the defendant felt that her mother neglectedher and left her alone at home, she therefore got emotional and mounted the attack.
18. As the psychiatrists opined that the defendant did not display any psychotic features at that time and she knew what she was doingand based on the defendant’s own admissions, the attack was clearly the result of the defendant acting on impulse.
19. Although Mr Lam suggested that the attack was launched by the defendant because of her failure to take medicine to control her temper,the defendant herself acknowledges that she knew what she did at that time was wrong. If the defendant decided not to take the medicineand decided to allow herself to act out of impulse, then she should shoulder the responsibility of her impulsive act and could notnow turn around to use the failure to take medicine as an excuse.
20. The charge to which this defendant pleaded guilty and for which she is going to be sentenced is not one of wounding with intent. However, the facts were that the defendant did not just use her bare hands to mount the attack, she actually armed herself witha pair of scissors and then entered into her mother’s room to stab her right in the abdomen. Moreover, when the mother pulled outthe pair of scissors, the defendant tried to attack her again which led to the injuries on her mother’s hand. The defendant didnot stop there. She then dragged her mother out to the living room and only had her mother promised not to tell the police aboutthe attack did she then call the police. These facts make this a serious case of wounding 19.
21. Although the defendant’s mother is supportive of the defendant and has written to the court indicating that she has forgiven herand begged on the defendant’s behalf for leniency, this case is not just a family matter. The defendant must understand that shehas to bear the consequences if she commits a criminal offence and that such includes causing physical injuries to her own mother.
22. The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge and she will receive a one-third reduction for her plea. Apart from this, I do not considerthere to be other strong mitigating factors.
23. Considering the facts of this case, including the circumstances under which the attack took place, the injuries sustained by thedefendant’s mother and that a pair of scissors was used in the attack, I consider a starting point of 27 months to be appropriate.
24. The defendant pleaded guilty and, as I have indicated, she will be given the discount for the plea. Therefore, the term of 27 monthswill be reduced to 18 months.