Mother bailed after teenage daughter falls to death in Hong Kong

Mother bailed after teenage daughter falls to death in Hong Kong
Herminia Garcia emerged from court hand in hand with her British partner Nick Cousins, a businessman, who was also arrested after the 15-year-old's fatal 21-storey fall.

HONG KONG - The Filipina mother of a teenager who plunged to her death from an upmarket Hong Kong apartment was released on bail Thursday after being charged with neglect, as her lawyer told of the "unravelling" of their happy family life.

Herminia Garcia emerged from court hand in hand with her British partner Nick Cousins, a businessman, who was also arrested after the 15-year-old's fatal 21-storey fall.

Although police said there was "no suspicious element" to the tragedy, they detained the teenager's parents on suspicion of "ill-treatment or neglect of a child or a young person".

Cousins, 58, is the managing director of the Hong Kong office of British multinational Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT), one of the world's leading insurance brokers.

He is already on bail and has not yet been charged with any offence, while Garcia, who goes by the name Grace, was charged with neglect.

The 53-year-old was also charged with overstaying her visa, while Cousins is being investigated for aiding or abetting the overstay. The couple are not married.

Garcia is a former domestic helper, according to local media.

The couple also have a younger daughter.

Garcia appeared before magistrates in Hong Kong Thursday where proceedings were interpreted for her in Tagalog - a Philippine language.

Cousins accompanied her, sitting in the public gallery, often with his head bowed.

The charge sheet said that Garcia's treatment of an unnamed 14-year-old "Child X" was likely to cause "unnecessary suffering".

No further detail of the neglect charge was given.

Garcia's lawyer Christopher Morley told the court how Garcia had lived a "happy normal life with her de facto husband" before her daughter's death, which had led to the "unravelling situation" for the family.

He asked that Garcia be released on bail on humanitarian grounds.

"This lady is grieving from the loss of her beloved daughter. If she is remanded in custody, she will be denied the support of her family," he said.

Morley also countered local media reports that the teenager and her younger sister had never been to school, saying that they had "received a proper education" at what he described as a learning centre.

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