Cho ‘Simon’ Cheun left his two kids in Ireland to be with a lover he had recently met online
Cho ‘Simon’ Cheung appeared happy with his new partner, uploading pictures of their new baby at the time his daughter in Ireland spoke of her heart being shattered.
His previous wife had left the family in Ireland for Hong Kong in 2007, so the two children were left without parents when he flew to Singapore in October 2016.
Even though he knew his children had been without their mother for nine years he told them he was going to Dublin when in fact he was jetting off to the far side of the world.
But that didn’t stop Simon posting pics of himself enjoying an infinity pool, a casino and lounging in the sun at the time in 2016.
He also posed for a family portrait with his partner and their newborn baby shortly after his arrival there.
This week his daughter Ciara, now aged 17, said in a Victim Impact Statement heard at Ennis Circuit Court that her father had lied about going to Dublin but instead, he “left the country for a woman you only met months ago”.
“I am 17 now and you have been gone for six years. Living without two parents has been beyond difficult.”
She said that after her father left “I would come into school with red eyes, crying so much”.
Having her two biological parents leave the family home made her feel worthless.
“If it wasn’t bad that one parent left, two gone made my life fall apart into millions of pieces that I thought was impossible to fix.”
She said that her mental health has slowly become better.
Addressing her father, she said: “I blamed myself for six years for your doing. I was never worthless. It was never my fault.
“It was your fault for thinking only of yourself and nobody else – not even your family that I thought you cared about”.
Cho Cheung had pleaded guilty at an earlier sitting to two counts of wilfully abandoning his children.
It was heard how Cheung was arrested at Dublin Airport after returning to Ireland in November 2020 for work and was subsequently charged and remanded on bail.
Cho Cheung worked as a chef at different Chinese restaurants around Ireland after arriving here in 1994, a Garda witness said.
After his former wife and the children’s mother left the home in 2007 to return to Hong Kong, Cheung’s mother arrived in Ireland to help raise the children.
By autumn 2016, his mother had decided to return home to Hong Kong as she was in her mid-70s and returned in November 2016 shortly after Cheung had gone to Singapore.
Ciara and her sibling were brought into family foster care of Cheung’s sister who also lives in Shannon.
The woman he had met online had come to Ireland earlier in 2016 to further the relationship with him but didn’t get on with Cheung’s mother and returned to Singapore.
Cheung left for Singapore in October 2016 as his new partner was having their first child.
His defence counsel said Cheung apologised to his two children for leaving them in Ireland, and that he is “extremely ashamed and embarrassed by his actions”.
It was added that it was not a case that he left the children unsupervised, but was under the mistaken belief that there were structures in place.
Judge Francis Comerford said that abandoning his children in October 2016 was “a calculated criminal act”.
He said the offence “is an egregious example of callousness and cowardice on behalf of the accused”.
Judge Comerford said he was cowardly for lying, saying that he was going to Dublin instead of Singapore and callous because he knew that the children’s mother hadn’t been in their lives.
“Mr Cheung knows his children are about to lose the presence of granny who has been there for years.
“He picks that time to head off without explanation. It was a calculated act of abandonment and calculated to cause harm.”
Judge Comerford gave him a 22-month suspended sentence, that he wasn’t sure if it is right to impose the same harm on two more children.
To send the first-time offender to prison would do more harm than good in terms of the impact it would have on the two younger children, according to Judge Comerford.
He also imposed a €1,000 fine which he acknowledged was “a tiny amount” when compared to the harm done by Cheung.