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DH faces jail term for beating boy

14 April 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

For losing her cool and hitting her seven-year-old ward with a wooden back scratcher, a Filipina domestic helper has been told by a magistrate in Kowloon court that she faces a "deterrent sentence", meaning she will have to spend time in jail.
Rosemarie Castillo, 32, pleaded guilty on Jan 8 to a charge of "willful assault causing injury to a child" for beating the boy when he threw a tantrum and refused to take a shower over his elder brother's refusal to play with him.
The incident happened in the evening of Oct 5, 2015, in the employers' flat in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon.
The maid said she lost her temper as she was suffering from a headache and was busy trying to finish all her chores before her employers returned home from work.
In a “momentary loss of control,” Castillo grabbed the scratcher and beat the boy, leaving bruises on his left cheek, on the left side of his neck and on his left arm.  
The parents saw the bruises when they arrived and called the police. Castillo was arrested and taken into custody. She was later granted bail.
During mitigation, the defense lawyer asked that the magistrate spare the helper from a custodial sentence, saying that the parents themselves had instructed the maid to hit the boy if he became uncontrollable.
She said that on that fateful evening, the boy was throwing a tantrum after a fight with his brother over his refusal to play with him.
“The defendant had a big headache and was busy doing all the chores, and when she told the boy to stop and go take a shower, the more he rolled on the floor crying and yelling,” the lawyer said.
“I hope you will accept her remorse. This is not a case that calls for custodial sentence,” she said.
But Magistrate Eric Cheung turned down the lawyer’s plea. “I will adopt a deterrent sentence because the defendant has committed a serious offense. The parents hired a domestic helper to take good care of the child,” he said.
Cheung said that before sentencing he would call for an impact assessment report “to find out if the child has suffered psychological harm.”
The female prosecutor stood up and tried to dissuade the magistrate from doing so by saying the boy was back in his usual self just days after the incident and that such an assessment could only revive the trauma from the incident.
The magistrate told her that he needed to see the impact assessment report nevertheless.
Cheung adjourned the sentencing to Feb 2.
“Defendant, as you heard from the discussion between this court and the lawyer, I will impose a deterrent sentence and cancel your bail. You will be put in custody,” he said.

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