Filipino sent to HK jail for visa lack
The Filipina mother of a teenager who plunged to her death from an upmarket Hong Kong apartment was jailed Friday for a visa violation which surfaced in the wake of the tragedy.
Herminia Garcia, 53, was sent to prison for a year for outstaying her permit to live in the city, despite the defense seeking mitigation in the wake of the “awful” loss of her daughter.
Her partner, British businessman Nick Cousins, 58, was given an eight-month suspended sentence for helping her to breach her conditions of stay and for failing to register their daughters’ births.
In emotional scenes at Eastern Magistrates’ Court, Garcia was hugged by her tearful surviving young daughter as she was led away.
Cousins and Garcia had both initially been accused of neglect after their 15-year-old daughter fell 21 stories from the apartment block in Repulse Bay in April.
But the neglect charge against Garcia was eventually dropped and Cousins was never formally charged after an investigation.
Instead, they were charged with visa violations.
It emerged in court Friday that Garcia had been married to a husband in the Philippines who would not grant her a divorce.
Her right to stay in Hong Kong had ended in 1994, the court heard.
Garcia had pleaded guilty to “breach of condition to stay” and Cousins pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting her.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to register the births of their two daughters.
Magistrate So Wai-tak said they were “selfish” for flouting the rules.