Monday, August 17, 2015

Neglect charge dropped for Pinay mom of teen who fell to death in HK

HONG KONG - The Filipina mother of a teenager who plunged to her death from an upmarket Hong Kong apartment saw a charge of child neglect against her dropped Thursday.
 
Herminia Garcia, 53, still faces a charge of "breach of condition to stay" in Hong Kong.
 
Her British businessman partner, Nick Cousins, faced fresh charges of helping her to stay in the city illegally, plus two counts of failing to register a birth. 
 
The 58-year-old is the managing director of the Hong Kong office of British multinational Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT), one of the world's leading insurance brokers.
 
Their 15-year-old daughter fell 21 storeys from the apartment block in Repulse Bay in April.
 
The teenager was pronounced dead at the scene after a security guard heard a loud noise and she was found lying on the ground. 
 
Police said at the time she had been upset about "daily life issues."
 
Her younger sister was initially taken to a children's home following the incident, but was shortly released back into her family's care.
 
There was "no suspicious element" to the tragedy, police added, but they detained both parents on suspicion of neglect. 
 
Garcia was charged soon after and Cousins released on bail pending a police investigation.
 
He was finally charged Wednesday for "aiding, abetting, counseling or procuring breach of condition of stay by another person" and two charges of "failing to register birth."
 
Giles Surman, who represented the couple Thursday, said outside the courtroom that the charge of child neglect against Garcia was dropped "because there is no evidence."
 
Garcia is reported to have been working as a domestic helper in Hong Kong from 1990 and began living with Cousins in 1994.
 
The South China Morning Post had previously reported that the girls' births had never been registered, despite attempts by the immigration department to track them.
 
There were also reports that they had never been to school, although the defense countered they had received a "proper education."
 
Neither Garcia nor Cousins entered a plea and they will return to court on September 25.
 
Garcia's cash bail of HK$100,000 ($12,900) with an extra HK$100,000 surety given by a friend was extended, while Cousins was released on a cash bail of HK$10,000.
 
The couple left the court building together hand in hand but did not comment and were driven away in a black Mercedes Benz. —Agence France-Presse

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