A Hong Kong couple pleaded guilty for a child abuse charge in Shatin Magistrates' Court. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Hong Kong couple pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse in the Shatin Magistrates’ Court on Thursday after authorities discovered last year that they had been starving their then five-month-old baby.

On April 18, 2016, social workers visited the home of a 35-year-old man surnamed Lee and his 36-year-old wife surnamed Chow after the jobless couple had missed a scheduled vaccine injection for their baby several times, Oriental Daily reported, citing court documents.

Social workers urged the parents to feed the baby, who looked weak and numb, before leaving home. The baby, who seemed very hungry, held the bottle and drank the milk himself in a pram, social workers told the court.

Medical staff at the Maternal and Child Health Center later sent the baby to hospital as he was dehydrated and had a fever.

Social workers said the couple had remained indifferent and focused on their mobile phones when their baby was in hospital.

The baby returned to stable condition after 10 hours and is now under the care of the Po Leung Kuk charity, Sing Pao reported. The police later arrested the couple.

The parents on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a child abuse charge and appealed to magistrate for leniency. The magistrate criticized the couple for focusing too much on their mobile phones, instead of their child. A sentencing hearing is schedule on April 26.

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