China mother spared over mercy killing of daughter

Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:34am EDT
 
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BEIJING (Reuters) - A mother has been spared jail after admitting poisoning and smothering her 20-year-old mentally disabled daughter, a case that throws the spotlight on the plight of the mentally ill in China.

Li Daohong, 47, told a Beijing court she had spent all her money over 20 years taking her daughter, Xiao Fei, who could not even go to the toilet by herself, across the country for treatment for "brain paralysis," Xinhua news agency said.

In despair, she took her Xiao Fei to a Beijing hotel where she fed her more than 200 sleeping pills and smothered her with towels and a quilt once she was asleep.

The Beijing court said Li had "spent great energy and money on the victim and the mounting psychological burden proved unbearable for her."

She was given a suspended three-year jail sentence.

Liao Fei, associate professor of social psychology at Renmin University, said the case proved more attention should be paid to the disabled.

"The families need not only material aid, but also psychological support," he told Xinhua. "The tragedy could have been avoided if Li Daohong had been helped to tell of her despair."

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie)