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Pinay gets 12 months’ jail for dumping baby’s body in toilet

24 May 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina maid was sentenced to 12 months in jail in District Court on May 4 after she pleaded guilty to a charge of “preventing the lawful burial of a dead person” for dumping the body of her newborn in the toilet of a Tsuen Wan mall.

Aileen Grado, 37, was convicted by Judge W.K. Kwok on her own admission of the charge, which had been downgraded from infanticide.

However, Grado, a single mother who came to Hong Kong in 2012, may be released shortly because she had been in police custody since her arrest on Apr 11 last year, prosecutor Andrew Raffell said after the hearing.

“She should be released immediately; she’s been in detention for more than a year,” Raffell said. “I don’t understand why the duty lawyer didn’t apply for bail and the magistrate didn’t grant her bail.”

Counsel for Grado said the Filipina would be turned over by the police to the Immigration Department for her travel clearance and plane ticket.

Raffell told the court that Grado delivered a baby boy prematurely between 2am and 3am on Mar 23. For a few minutes the newborn was alive and crying, but the maid did not know what to do.

“When the baby stopped crying, it also stopped breathing,” Raffell said.

He said Grado called the Consulate about her desire to surrender shortly after the baby’s body was discovered in the water closet of a toilet in a Sham Tseng commercial center. The body, wrapped in tissue paper and diapers and sealed in a plastic bag, was found by a cleaning woman who searched for the source of foul smell in the washroom.

The report said Grado knew she was pregnant in August-September 2015 after a fling with a man with whom she had lost contact. She hid the pregnancy from her employer for fear of losing her job, but wanted to keep the baby.

Raffell said the original charge against Grado was infanticide, but it was amended later to a lighter offense of preventing a lawful burial because an autopsy showed the baby was a premature newborn; it bore no injury, trace of toxic substance, or sign of asphyxiation. He said the pathologist said there were many possible reasons for the baby’s death.

Raffell emphasized Grado was distraught after losing her baby and disposing of the body.

When the baby was found, the maid reportedly  After discovery of the body, she maid left her employer and stayed with a friend.                          

“The defendant surrendered to the Philippine Consulate. She surrendered to the authorities and admitted the offense… I would say she absolutely, unequivocally and voluntarily surrendered,” Raffell said.

In mitigation, the defense counsel said Grado came to Hong Kong in October 2012 to work as domestic helper to support a daughter, now 8, after the father left them. She also supported her farmer parents. Her employer said she was a very good helper.

He said Grado loved the baby and wanted to keep it but that the premature birth was unexpected and she did not know how to cope with it.  

Citing two previous cases of unlawful disposal of a dead body similar to Grado’s case, Lam sought a lenient sentence and suggested a starting point of 12 to 18 months.

Judge Kwok, taking into account Grado’s guilty plea and voluntary surrender, imposed a 12-month prison sentence.

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