Criminal law

The judge lists the “calculated criminal act” of the father who abandoned his two children


A judge has described a father who abandoned his two school-going children to travel to Singapore for a woman he met online as “cruel” and “cowardly”.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Francis Comerford said the abandonment by Cho “Simon” Cheung, 51, of his children in October 2016 was a “calculated criminal act”.

Mr Cheung abandoned his 11-year-old daughter, Ciara, and 15-year-old son, nine years after the children’s mother left the family home in Shannon, Que Claire, to return to Hong Kong.

Judge Comerford said the crime was “a scandalous example of cruelty and cowardice on the part of the accused”.

He said Mr Cheung was cowardly because he lied that he was going to Dublin instead of Singapore, and cruel because he knew the children’s mother had not been in their lives since his daughter was two.

Justice Comerford said: “He knows his children are about to lose the presence of their grandmother who has been there for years. He chooses that time to drive off without explanation.

It was an act of desertion and meant to cause harm.

He said Mr. Cheung deserved to go to prison for 22 months, but said he would suspend the entire prison term.

The man has two children with his new wife, and Judge Commerford said he was not sure whether it was right to impose the same harm as the victims in this case to impose it on two other children.

Sending a first-time offender to prison now would do more harm than good in terms of the effect it would have on the two younger children, Judge Comerford said.

He was fined €1,000, which he admitted was a “miniscule amount” compared to the damage he had caused, but the judge said he had to take into account his financial circumstances.

Judge Comerford said his heart goes out to the two children in the case.

Mr Cheung had pleaded guilty to two counts of intentionally abandoning his two children in a manner causing unnecessary suffering under Section 246 of the Children’s Act.

Victim impact statement

Daughter Ciara is now 17 years old and is going to college.

In a victim impact statement, she told the court she was heartbroken in October 2016 when she learned her father had lied when he said he was going to Dublin when instead he “left the country for a woman I met only months ago”.

She said her biological parents, who moved out of the family home, made her feel worthless, but that her mental health has improved since then.

“For six years I blamed myself for what I did,” she said, addressing her father. I have never been worthless. And it was never my fault. It was your fault that you thought only of yourself and not of anyone else, not even of your own family, whom you thought you cared about.”

Sergeant Kevin O’Hagan of Shannon Garda Station told the court that after Mr Cheung’s ex-wife and mother of the children left home in 2007 to return to Hong Kong, the children’s grandmother (the accused’s mother) arrived in Ireland to help raise the children. children.

By the fall of 2016, Mr. Cheung’s mother decided to move back to Hong Kong because she was in her mid-70s. She returned in November 2016, shortly after her son went to Singapore.

Alternative care

The children have been brought into the care of the family of the man’s sister who also lives in the Shannon area.

The woman the accused met online had come to Ireland earlier in 2016 to foster a relationship with him, but had a conflict with Mr Cheung’s mother at home and returned to Singapore.

Mr Cheung left for Singapore in October 2016 when his new partner was pregnant with their first child.

“He was in charge of the child in Singapore,” said Det O’Hagan. “That’s okay, but I don’t think you can toss a coin, Judge.”

Mr. Cheung’s attorney, Rebecca Tracy BL, said she was instructed to apologize to his two children.

She said: “He is deeply ashamed and embarrassed by his actions and hopes that one day it may be possible to mend his relationship with his family.

He takes full responsibility for his actions.

Ms Tracy added that there was absolutely no excuse for shirking responsibility in relation to his children, but said it was not the case that Mr Cheung left in the middle of the night and left the children unattended.

She said he had mistakenly thought there were structures at the site.

Det O’Hagan said Mr Cheung was arrested at Dublin airport after returning to Ireland in November 2020 for work when he was later charged and held on bail.


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