The couple who tortured a two-year-old boy, who eventually died of his injuries, were sentenced to jail on Tuesday (Jul 5).
The boy’s mother Zaidah, 41, was sentenced to 11 years in jail. Her boyfriend Zaini Jamari, 46, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
The couple, who have a one-year-old child, pleaded guilty last month to one count each for causing grievous hurt causing death and three counts each of child abuse.
The couple had another 26 and 18 charges for child abuse respectively taken into consideration during sentencing.
For five weeks before his death, two-year-old Mohamed Daniel Mohamad Nasser suffered at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.
The couple, both cleaners, kicked, slapped and stomped on Daniel daily and forced the toddler to stand with his hands on his head for hours, clad only in his diapers. They also forced dried chili down his throat.
Daniel’s abuse came to light only when he eventually died of his injuries on Nov 23, 2015, having endured hours of abuse the day before his death.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Claire Poh had called the “physical, mental and emotional abuse” of a “defenceless, voiceless” two-year-old child “horrific and inhumane”.
In sentencing, District Judge Bala Reddy said the "extreme violence" the couple used to "discipline" the child, leading to his death, revealed "senseless brutality".
"For more than a month, the two of you, in a ruthless and unrelenting manner, inflicted severe torture on your two-year-old child, who was unable to retaliate or defend himself.
"The idea of a mother causing such hurt to a baby she had carried for nine months is simply incomprehensible."
DANIEL’S LAST DAY
At about 10am on Nov 22, the toddler refused to eat breakfast and his mother slapped him. She then passed the bowl to her boyfriend, Zaini, who tried to feed the boy.
When he still did not eat, both Zaidah and Zaini slapped him multiple times and the woman hit her son’s back, causing him to fall to the floor. She stomped on his chest before pulling him up by his arm
The boy ate two or three spoonfuls of food but refused to eat anymore, and was sent to stand in the corner of a room.
He stayed there until around 7pm that day, until tired from standing all day, the toddler leaned on the bedframe. When the couple noticed this, both of them started slapping Daniel, who lay down on the floor and closed his eyes.
Zaini took the boy to the kitchen and force-fed him two spoonfuls of dried chilli before forcing him to continue standing in the living room.
Later, around 8.45pm, Daniel became weak and was unable to continue standing. His mother pinched him on his body and cheeks, and slapped him several times. Zaidah thought the boy was “pretending” and complained to her boyfriend, the court heard.
Zaini slapped the boy, and kicked him in the stomach till Daniel fell to the floor, hitting his head. Zaini then force-fed the toddler chilli for the second time that day.
The next morning, the couple could not rouse the boy and their two housemates called an ambulance. Daniel was pronounced dead at 9.11am.
When questioned by paramedics and by the police over the boy’s bruise-riddled body, the couple lied that the toddler had a habit of pinching himself and that he had slipped and fallen in the toilet.
When charging the couple last month, it took the prosecutor several minutes to read out a list of more than 40 external injuries found on the boy’s body during an autopsy. The toddler also had a rib fracture and bleeding in the brain.
For causing grievous hurt resulting in death, the couple could have been sentenced to up to 10 years’ jail and a fine or caning. For child abuse, they could have been jailed up to four years and/or fined up to S$4,000 for each charge.