Embroiled in a fierce custody battle and afraid of losing his son, Belgian expat Philippe Graffart smothered five-year-old Keryan to death on Oct 5 last year, before attempting suicide.
Graffart, 42, removed his seatbelt before crashing his car at full speed into a wall at about 10.40pm that night. The impact left him unconscious but alive, and he was rescued and taken to hospital.
He was arrested in the early hours of Oct 6, after a police officer found him outside Bukit Timah police station with self-inflicted wounds and an intravenous drip still attached to his arm.
“I have done something really bad to my son,” he confessed. Keryan was found dead in his bedroom shortly after. Graffart had arranged the boy’s body and covered him with a blanket.
“I AM SO AFRAID TO LOSE MY SON”
He pleaded guilty on Monday morning (Aug 1) to a reduced culpable homicide charge; he was originally charged with murder.
The High Court heard Graffart had been suffering from major depressive disorder, which “substantially impaired his thinking process and judgement … leading to the death of his son”, a psychiatric report stated.
Graffart had been fighting with his French wife Gwendoline over custody of Keryan in the months prior to the boy’s death, and had exchanged several e-mails with his lawyers about the case that day, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz said.
“I am so tired of all this … really tired,” Graffart wrote in an e-mail to his lawyer on Oct 5, hours before he would desperately smother his son, and a day before a Family Justice Courts hearing over the boy’s custody.
“I want to … end this nightmare. I cannot change the past but I can change the future … I am so afraid to lose my son.”
GRAFFART ATTEMPTED SUICIDE THRICE THAT NIGHT
At about 8.20pm, Graffart conducted two ominous Google searches – the first, on how long it would take to suffocate someone, and the second, on whether one could survive a car crash at 150kmh, DPP Sripathy-Shanaz told the court.
The High Court heard Graffart read two bedtime stories to Keryan and let the boy take medication meant for insomnia before bed. An autopsy report later stated the boy had been “sedated or asleep” when he died at the hands of his father.
Graffart’s charge sheet states he killed his son with a cushion between 9pm and 10.17pm on Oct 5.
The father said he cradled his son’s body and told him he loved him and “was going to join him”. Then he left the house and crashed his car.
Between 3.45am and 4.20am, after leaving the hospital and taking an Uber back to his home, Graffart attempted suicide twice more – but he could not bring himself to jump off his 32nd-storey balcony or stab himself with a kitchen knife.
He then took another Uber to the police station, where he confessed.
An autopsy report detailed several bruises found on Keryan’s face. His cause of death was “unascertained … (but) death due to suffocation … cannot be ruled out”, the report stated.
An embassy official and Graffart’s girlfriend were present in court, but declined to comment. A friend of his wife was also present.
For culpable homicide, Graffart could be jailed for up to 10 years and caned.
He will be sentenced on Aug 22. He is represented by defence lawyer Ramesh Tiwary.