A mentally disabled Hong Kong woman accused of gouging out her sister’s eye as she slept has been ordered to a psychiatric facility for testing.
Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen on Thursday sent Ma Wai-king, 59, to Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre to determine if she is fit to enter a plea and stand trial over the alleged assault on Ma Wai-kuen, 66, on April 30.
The magistrate’s order brought another sister to tears after she had appealed to the court for Ma Wai-king to be returned to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, where the injured sister remained hospitalised.
“I’m worried about her,” Ma Wai-chong, 64, said of the defendant. “She doesn’t know how to take care of herself. I could look after both of them if she stayed at Eastern Hospital.”
She didn’t know she had harmed her sister. She just sat there.
Ma Wai-chong, a third sister
Ma Wai-king was brought to Eastern Court on Thursday to face one count of inflicting grievous bodily harm, an offence punishable by three years in prison.
The defendant was slumped in a wheelchair when a police officer pushed her into the dock.
Asked to confirm her name, the defendant looked around and groaned incomprehensible noises, occasionally tapping the railings surrounding her.
She also did not respond when the magistrate and the court clerk took turns reading out the charge against her.
A lawyer with the Duty Lawyer Service said they had been unable to communicate with the defendant to confirm their representation.
“Do you think she understands us?” Law asked.
“Absolutely not,” her sister replied.
In the interest of justice, I hope she is represented at every stage.
Peter Law, principal magistrate
Ma Wai-chong said her sister had never been able to understand others or to express herself verbally, except in single words when it comes to food.
“I had asked her why she would harm her sister,” the sister said, her voice breaking. “She didn’t react. She didn’t know she had harmed her sister. She just sat there.”
Virginia Chan, a social worker from the hospital, explained that Ma Wai-king had not been categorised as mentally incapacitated, so she has never been appointed a guardian.
The lack of a legal guardian meant she could not be represented, even in simple procedures such as hiring a lawyer. But the Duty Lawyer Service indicated that they would be willing to represent her.
“In the interest of justice, I hope she is represented at every stage,” Law said.
Prosecutors said the Social Welfare Department had been unaware of the orphaned sisters’ condition but that they would consider appointing the defendant a legal guardian.
The case will return to Eastern Court on May 16, pending the psychiatric assessment.