Herminia Garcia, 53, the mother of the 15-year-old teenage girl who fell to her death from the family’s flat in Repulse Bay, was granted bail Thursday at Eastern Magistrates’ Court.
The Filipino former domestic helper, who has been charged with overstaying her visa and ill-treatment of a child, was released on HK$200,000 (US$25,800) bail, half in cash and the other half in the form of a surety bond.
The prosecutor said Garcia had stayed in Hong Kong illegally since her visa expired in 1994 and so should not be released from custody, Apple Daily reported Friday.
But Magistrate So Wai-tak, granting her bail, said he took into account Garcia’s need to prepare for the funeral of her daughter.
The decision came after her lawyer, Christopher Morley, told the court Garcia is grieving the loss of her daughter and would be denied the support of her family if she were to be remanded in custody.
Garcia left the court hand in hand with her partner and the dead teen’s father, Nick Cousins, 58, a British insurance executive who was released by police earlier without being charged.
One of the directors at British multinational insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson, where Cousins is the Hong Kong managing director, served as the surety for the bond.
Garcia was told to appear in court on June 4.
Morley asked the media to respect the family’s privacy, saying there was no comment from them.
The couple, who have a younger daughter, aged 14, are not married.
The charge sheet said Garcia’s treatment of an unnamed “Child X” since 2000 was likely to cause “unnecessary suffering”.
Police investigators found that the dead teen and her younger sister did not have Hong Kong birth registration papers.
The mother could face up to 10 years in prison for child abuse and up to two years and a fine of as much as HK$50,000 for overstaying her visa.
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British executive arrested after teen daughter falls to death [April 8]
Mother of death plunge teen charged [April 9]