A teacher at a special needs school accused of punishing mentally handicapped children by spraying disinfectant alcohol at them was convicted of 11 counts of child abuse at Tuen Mun Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Ann Leung Pui-ki, 47, worked at the Po Leung Kuk Law’s Foundation School in Yuen Long and was charged with 15 counts of willful assault causing injury to a child. Her application for bail, on the grounds that there was no evidence to show actual harm, was denied by the magistrate.
The case has now been adjourned to January 8.
According to the charges, the defendant intentionally assaulted seven children aged six to seven in 2013-2014. Her actions were uncovered when parents at the school received footage submitted anonymously.
In the video, the defendant sprayed alcohol at the children in nine instances, and in one case after yelling at the student.
Magistrate Lau Yee-wan said that the children’s responses showed that they were scared. She also said that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses – three teaching assistants and three parents – all matched, and that they were all reliable witnesses.
However, Lau questioned the reliability of the defendant’s arguments—for example, that she was not aware that alcohol in the eye would cause discomfort. Later, she said that she would not use alcohol wipes on her own face because she was worried it would irritate her eyes.
The defendant was also charged with four other counts of assaulting children. However, since it it was difficult to see in the clip whether the defendant was spraying at the children’s hands or faces, she was acquitted of these charges due to a lack of evidence.
May, a parent of one of the children involved in the case, said that she was satisfied with the judgment and that she hoped it would act as a deterrent to people with bad intentions. She said that “the school turned out to be the most dangerous place” for her child.
In a press release, the Po Leung Kuk said that they have a zero tolerance polciy towards behaviour harmful to children.
The charity also said that the school’s board of directors voted to terminate the defendant’s employment immediately when the incident was uncovered, and that they believed it was an isolated case.
The classroom has now been installed with CCTV cameras, and the complaints mechanism will also be reviewed, they added.