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Boy, 13, visits hospital bed of woman he set alight to apologise

A teenage Sichuan boy who doused a teacher in petrol and set her alight two months ago went to visit the woman, who is in hospital with severe burns, on Sunday for the first time, a mainland newspaper reports.

The 13-year-old boy, whose name has not been disclosed, accompanied his father to the hospital in Chengdu on Sunday morning, where the injured teacher Yang Dongling is undergoing treatment. He delivered an apology letter but did not speak to Yang during the visit, the Chengdu Business Daily reported.

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The boy splashed petrol on Yang, whom he did not know, and ignited it with a lighter on the night of June 13 in Jinchuan, a six-hour-drive from Chengdu. He then took Yang’s iPhone and ran away, the report said.

Yang and the boy were unable to talk with each other because of anger from Yang’s family, the report said.

Yang read the boy’s 100-character apology letter carefully after the boy left. “I want to hear him read the letter,” she said. When she learned the boy was on his way home, Yang said she would go to see him when she recovered.

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The boy said when he left the hospital that he felt his apology was far from enough.

The boy’s father Li Dong, 36, has visited Yang several times and paid 80,000 yuan (HK$93,400) toward her medical fees in the past two months. He said he took his son to the hospital to both offer his apology and make the boy face the truth of his actions.

Li Dong has kept his son at home since June and asked him to read books and watch TV programmes on legal matters. “I don’t know what to do with him,” Li said.

The boy started to skip school in third grade after Li and his wife divorced. He had stolen money and cell phones since he entered middle school and was once held for investigation by the police in Jinchuan, the report said.

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