A Cheung Chau man whose granddaughter died on his illegal Taobao e-trike was sentenced to probation and a small fine on Tuesday, with the magistrate saying the man had suffered enough from the girl’s death.
Leung Yat-wa (梁日華) was found guilty of neglect of a child in court, as well as two traffic offences, after the fatal incident on Cheung Chau on 16 January 2022, with magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei saying Leung was supported with letters of mercy from family members and a local school principal.
According to Leung, who worked in maintenance at Cheung Chau Hospital, he had left the five-year-old girl on his home-made e-trike, which was stationary, and walked away with shopping for around a minute when he heard “a loud bang”. He looked around and saw the girl had fallen to the ground with a massive head wound. She was declared dead in Cheung Chau Hospital less than half an hour later.
A pool of blood had been left by a wall, about 10 metres away from where the trike was later photographed by crime scene reporters.
But mystery surrounded the girl’s death, with many questioning how the girl had been killed falling from the low platform of the custom-built e-trike.
Medical experts who have studied child falls say a fall needs to be greater than about one metre to even cause skull fracture, let alone death. Indeed, authoritative studies show short falls rarely cause death. According to one, in the Journal of American Forensic Medical Pathology, most “minor fall” fatalities “occurred under circumstances where there were no unrelated witnesses to corroborate the initial history.” The forensic journal studied between fatal falls from between 1.5 and 1.8 metres, finding that “proper investigation” of such deaths almost always found another cause of death.
In calling emergency services on the fateful day, Leung asked for an ambulance and would not give any further details. A police source at the time said Leung may have been “too worried” about the situation to give 999 call handlers any more information about what happened.
A police blotter note at the time read “No police required, personal accidentally injured”.
Cheung Chau police also did not arrest Leung at the scene, and no cordon was made around the trike or the huge pool of blood left by a wall. Indeed, police did not even clean up the blood, leading many netizens to suspect crime scene contamination. The e-trike was later seized by police as an illegal electric vehicle. But Leung was still not arrested a month after the incident, with police claiming they needed advice from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Residents of Cheung Chau say Leung was often seen riding his e-trike around at great speed, despite Leung telling reporters at the time that he rarely used the machine.
Alternative theories surrounding the girl’s tragic death at the time suggested that the girl could have been flung from the trike as it braked from a high speed; or that she had been leaning out of the trike as it passed the wall at speed and struck her head on the edge of the wall.
No alternate theories were presented in court, nor was Leung challenged on his story by DOJ prosecutors. Magistrate Chui believed Leung’s tale and expressed sympathy for his plight. “I believe he feels sad and guilty for losing the victim, leaving an indelible mark, and will learn from it,” she said in passing the probationary sentence.
According to the court, the girl’s parents of the victim did not blame Leung but encouraged and supported him to “cheer up”. They wrote letters of support for Leung. The girl’s parents had left the victim and two other younger granddaughters in Leung’s care permanently.
Leung himself said the loss of his “favourite granddaughter” was already his greatest punishment, calling the little girl his “spiritual guide”.
Categories: Law and Enforcement, On the Roads, Transit
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