An 81-year-old Hong Kong man was sentenced to two years in jail after he pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter in the death of his disabled wife, who at the time of her death was chronically ill as well as bedridden.
Commenting that the case was a tragedy, Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling of the High Court imposed a sentence on defendant Wong Kok-man that would mean he was released immediately due to time served. Wong had been on remand since his arrest in June last year, Sing Tao Daily reported.
The defendant was arrested for killing his 76-year-old chronically ill wife surnamed Lam by strangling her when she was sleeping at their home in Shau Kei Wan on Hong Kong Island.
The court heard that Wong worried that if he died, no one would take care of his bedridden wife, who suffered from high blood pressure, arthritis and a thyroid disorder. After suffering a stroke, she had also lost her mobility, her vision and her sense of taste.
Earlier reports said that their neighbors described Wong and Lam as a loving couple who had no other family after their only son committed suicide at the age of 23 about 10 years ago.
In 2015, after suffering a stroke, Lam was unhappy about living in a nearby home for the elderly. This prompted Wong to take on the responsibility of caring for his paralyzed wife at home.
But as his wife’s sole caregiver Wong, whose own health was failing, found himself unable to cope.
Wong turned himself in to the police on the same day the crime took place and had been behind bars ever since.
The prosecution first charged Wong with murder but reduced this to manslaughter in light of the fact that he suffered from a major depressive disorder, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
The judge noted that Wong had been a loving husband and said her sentence would allow him to be released immediately.
She said it was not in the public interest to detain him for a long period of time and that he did not pose a threat to society.
Wong has eleven younger siblings who showed up in court to lend their support, pledging they would take better care of their eldest brother, Apple Daily reported.
Legislative Council member Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung visited Wong three times while he was in detention. Wong told Cheung that what he went through was “a society problem, a path that the poor have to walk.”
Wong also said he changed his mind about committing suicide after killing his wife, as he wanted to turn himself in, to take responsibility and let the public know how miserable life can be in Hong Kong for elderly people who live alone.
Waiting lists for places in care homes for the elderly are several years long. Cheung said that at least 6,600 elderly people who had been waiting for a place in government-subsidized care homes had died in the last year alone without having secured a place.