Original article no longer available
The Evening Standard
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
A mentally-disturbed mother who was found hanged in her flat near the strangled bodies of her two children told a psychiatrist she “wanted to take her son’s life and then her own” three weeks before they died, a coroner’s inquest was told yesterday.
Concerned she might injure herself and others, she was sent to hospital for compulsory observation.
But divorcee Lau Hoi-chu, 43, was released from Kwai Chung Hospital on November 25 last year – two days before her mainland friend Chen Shaozhen found Lau hanging in a bedroom next to the body of her son, Law Chung-yan, 16.
Her daughter, Law Yu-ching, 13, was unconscious in another room in a flat in Lok On House, Tsz Lok Estate, Tsz Wan Shan.
All three were certified dead by paramedics. The children were apparently strangled.
Testifying before a jury of five, Chen said she took care of the children when Lau was in hospital.
She had a meal with the family shortly before their deaths and Lau appeared to be at peace with her children.
Among the exhibits presented in court was a calendar on which was scribbled “afraid to be admitted to hospital again.”
In a written statement, Lau’s sister-in-law, Chen Jianqing, said she moved into the flat on November 23 to help look after the children together with Chen Shaozhen but on November 26 Lau told her not to spend the night in the flat.
Lo Wai-fan, a psychiatrist at East Kowloon General Out-patient Clinic, said she met Lau in late October last year and prescribed her two-week’s worth of sleeping and anti-depression drugs. However, Lau turned up at the clinic on November 6 – a week before her scheduled follow-up session – saying she was suffering from insomnia and worrying about her son.
Lau’s son, a Secondary Four student, had just been put on probation for shoplifting.
“Lau was emotional and believed there was no hope for the future. She said she wanted to end her son’s life before she ended hers,” Lo said.
Fearing she might hurt herself and others, Lo had her admitted to Kwai Chung Hospital under the Mental Health Ordinance for compulsory psychiatric observation of at least seven days.
Kwong Lap-kuen, a medical social worker, observed Lau and agreed with Lo’s diagnosis.
Chan Wai-ping, an assistant social worker in the Social Welfare Department, said she talked with Lau for more than an hour on November 19, during which she was calm though she did express concern about finding a secondary school for her daughter.
“She said it was just out of impulse when she said she wanted to hurt herself and her son. She regretted what she had said, as she couldn’t take care of her children while she was in hospital,” Chan said.
Lau also wrote notes to remind herself of a “better tomorrow” and that “issues concerning the growing up of the children do not equate to failure on my part.”
Lau’s ex-husband, Law Chi-pun, said he had not contacted her since 2006, nor given her alimony.