6 months for FDH for hitting baby

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Eastern Magistracy Courts

A Filipino domestic helper who pleaded guilty to hitting a baby after being jolted from her sleep was jailed for six months.

Eastern Courts Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai on July 18 said that although she accepted that C.B. Sotto’s act of hitting the baby was not pre-meditated, the offense was serious.

The magistrate said the only appropriate sentence for Sotto was a custodial sentence. She added that it was fortunate the baby did not sustain serious injuries and no apparent injury was observed.

Owing to the seriousness of the offense, the Filipina was originally sentenced to nine months in prison, but Judge Chainrai reduced it to six months owing to Sotto’s guilty plea.

Mitigating, the duty lawyer of Sotto said the defendant had no intention of hurting the baby and that she had only momentarily lost control.

“She lacked sleep at the time and she felt remorseful,” the duty lawyer added.

In a court hearing on July 4, a duty lawyer previously said the defendant was exhausted and when the 18-month-old baby that she was taking care of had not gone to sleep, she hit the child.

The prosecution said that at about 11:50 p.m., while the parents of the child were not at their home in Sheung Wan, the mother accessed the security camera in the flat through her mobile phone and she saw the helper hitting the child’s head and body.

The parents then reported the incident to the police and the baby was taken to the Queen Mary Hospital, where medical examinations revealed no injury to the victim.

At the police station, the defendant admitted that she hit the child and that she lost her self-control because she was exhausted and wanted to rest and go to bed.

Sotto’s duty lawyer told the court the defendant had a series of late nights prior to the incident as the child’s parents would go out and the helper would stay up late to take care of the baby.

“The defendant had been taking care of the baby 16 months prior to the incident. This was not premeditated. The act was not hidden , she had known all along that the camera was there,” the duty lawyer said.

The defense also said that the helper hit the child after she removed the baby from the cot and was trying to lull the baby to sleep.

“Just to put context into the situation, she is very sorry, but she has not been able to to get a proper rest. The defendant was up a lot at nights as the employers would go out regularly,” the defense said.

Judge Chainrai, however, said being stressed at work was not “an excuse for hitting the child the way she did.”

“This is out of character of the defendant, this was not planned. The child had not suffered any injury and the defendant is very remorseful. She has obviously lost her job,” the defense said about the Filipina,  who has a teenage son in the Philippines who lives with the defendant’s mother.

“She is keen to return to the Philippines to be with her son,” the duty lawyer said.

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