A coroner has returned an open verdict on a 10-year-old girl’s fatal fall from her school’s fifth floor and criticised the vice-principal’s statement as “full of nonsense and a pack of lies”.
Coroner Ko Wai-hung said on Thursday that court evidence was not conclusive enough to determine whether Law Cheuk-ki’s (羅芍淇) fall two years ago was suicide or an accident. Ko said that there were serious discrepancies between the statements given by the school’s staff members.
Law fell to her death from the fifth floor of CCC Kei Chun Primary School in Lai Chi Kok after abruptly leaving her classroom in December 2013. The incident caused controversy as the school called St. John’s Ambulance, instead of the 999 emergency hotline, after her fall.
Ko criticised Shek Ling (石玲), the school’s vice-principal for her poor attitude having claimed that she was so busy attempting to rescue Law that she forgot to call the police.
It took a total of 33 minutes between the school’s call to St. John’s Ambulance and Law’s arrival at Princess Margaret Hospital hospital, according to Ming Pao. She was pronounced dead 13 minutes after arrival.
The coroner said that, whilst Shek claimed to be saving Law’s life, she simultaneously asked janitors to clean up Law’s vomit, which included Law’s brain tissue and broken teeth. Ko added that, while ambulance staff found blood on Law’s mouth and nose, Shek had described her as if she was “sleeping”.
Shek herself is also a first aid lecturer for St. John’s Ambulance. The coroner said it was difficult to comprehend how Shek did not grasp Law’s condition.
The testimony of another vice-principal, Ko Yuen-wah (高婉華), was also not upheld by the coroner. In his remarks, Ko told first-aiders on the scene that Law could still move on her own following the incident.
The court also heard that Law was bullied by three classmates during school bus rides two months before her death. However, the three apologised and the coroner found no evidence of suicidal thoughts. Hence, he could not conclude that the death was caused by suicide.
Coroner Ko also ruled out the possibility of an accident as there was no evidence that drowsiness caused by Law’s medication caused her to fall. Ko added that Law’s height was 1.42m, while the railings were 1.3m high.
Ko said that he could not imagine that the teachers would make up lies to cover their mistakes, and considered the act as pouring salt over wounds of the deceased’s family.
Principal Wong Ching-man (黃靜雯) did not respond to questions regarding the case following its conclusion.
Last Friday, the school’s janitor said in court that the former principal asked school staff not to call the 999 emergency hotline to prevent the media from “wiretapping”.
Tam Chi-keung, Law’s class teacher said in court last Wednesday that announcements were put up in the school office advising staff “not to call 999” unless St. John’s Ambulance or hospitals failed to respond.
The coroner’s court will pass on sworn evidence to the Department of Justice and the police to determine whether any crimes were committed by witnesses.
Legislative councillor James To Kun-sun said that an open verdict was rare and the police will investigate whether Law’s death is a case of homicide.