A couple in Hongkong has been jailed for brutally abusing and murdering their friend's toddler girl, who was found covered in bruises. The couple admitted to tieing up the malnourished girl with a metal dog leash, beating her up with sticks until she died from severe head injuries.

The court sentenced Wednesday, Shiu Kwok-wai, 33, and Or Ching-man, 36, to 5 years and 4 months in jail for murdering their friend's youngest daughter, who was under their care. The 22-month-old child had more than 70 bruises on her body and weighed just 17.5 pounds when she died on June 20, 2019,  South China Morning Post reported.

The child was brought unresponsive to a hospital after she reportedly choked on food and was pronounced dead 30 minutes after arrival.

The couple pleaded guilty last month and admitted to charges of abuse or neglect of custody of a child, which is punishable by 10 years in jail,  Dimsum Daily reported.

Or Ching-Man admitted in court that the toddler was often tied up with a metal dog leash while she was left alone at home. She also admitted to punishing the child for being "naughty" by beating her with sticks until they break. 

Meanwhile, Kwok-wai admitted to slapping the child on multiple occasions from January 2019. However, he said had used only “moderate force," while assaulting the child as he knew he would have killed her otherwise. However, it remains unclear what has caused the head injuries to the child.

In a previous court hearing, the defense lawyer told the court that Or Ching-Man's decision to take care of her friend's child was due to "a misguided compassion" fearing the child would end up in foster care as she was neglected by the mother. 

“However, due to a combination of factors, she took on far too much for her own physical and mental abilities,” the lawyer told the court. During the child's death, Ching-Man was three months pregnant and was raising her three young daughters including a four-month-old baby, the court was told. The court also heard that Kwok-wai was unable to control himself due to financial stress as the family’s sole breadwinner.

child-gf05eb8f74_640 representational image Photo: pixabay