Babysitter on trial for poisoning babies took medicines from best friend, who is a doctor

Babysitter on trial for poisoning babies took medicines from best friend, who is a doctor

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File photo of a mother feeding milk to her baby. (Photo: AFP/Peter Parks)

SINGAPORE: A babysitter on trial for poisoning two babies had received medication from her best friend, a doctor, over the years, including the year she allegedly drugged the two infants.

Two of the medicines she received were among the list of drugs found in the two babies – who are not related – after they were hospitalised.

This was revealed in court on Thursday (Feb 27) afternoon, when Dr Peter Looi took the stand for the prosecution in the case against registered nurse Sa'adiah Jamari, 38.

She faces two counts of administering poisons to a five-month-old baby and an 11-month-old child in 2016.

READ: Nanny on trial for poisoning two babies with drugs, with one hospitalised

Toxicology reports listed 10 drugs found in the younger baby, and six in the older one. The drugs include sleeping pills, antihistamines and medication for anxiety.

Dr Looi was the principal resident physician at Changi General Hospital's Accident and Emergency department in 2016, and was at Sa'adiah's home the night the second victim was dropped off at her home to be cared for.

When asked to describe his relationship with Sa'adiah, Dr Looi said: "I would say I am her best friend. I've been her mentor, her adviser, her confidante, her doctor, and I know a fair bit of her life."

He said he has had this relationship with Sa'adiah for at least 15 years.

He did not stay with Sa'adiah, but visited her home four to five times a week, spending a few hours there each night, but did not stay overnight.

He said he knew Sa'adiah, an enrolled nurse since 2002, was offering babysitting services but he was not involved in them and did not have any contact with the babies.

Asked if he took any medication over to Sa'adiah's home in 2016, Dr Looi said: "Sometimes when the accused is sick, or her daughters are sick, I might bring some simple flu or cough medication."

He added that he would have taken the medication "from the department".

DOCTOR MIGHT HAVE GIVEN ACCUSED TWO DRUGS

When taken through the full list of drugs found in the babies' systems after they were hospitalised, Dr Looi said he might have given Sa'adiah two of the drugs on the list.

These were chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine, and orphenadrine, also known as the muscle relaxant Anarex.

Asked how often he brought the two medications to Sa'adiah's home, Dr Looi said: "When they're sick, when they need it."

Cross-examined by the defence, he said only three of the drugs on the list were prescription drugs, and the rest could be bought over-the-counter or at pharmacies.

The prescription drugs were common medication available "in any clinic in Singapore", said Dr Looi. 

"They are common medications given for anxiety, for stress and for sleeping disorders," he said.

District Judge John Ng showed Dr Looi a photo of the medication prescribed to Sa'adiah by Dr Looi that was not part of the flu or cough medicines that he said he had given her.

Dr Looi acknowledged that it was not true he had only given her flu or cough medication, and said this medication was for menstrual disorders.

He then added that he had also given Sa'adiah injections for pain and vomiting, but did not give her any sedatives or sleeping pills.

Sa'adiah was seeking psychiatric help and obtained other drugs from her psychiatrist, he said, but added that he did not interfere with the dispensing of that medication.

FATHER OF 11-MONTH-OLD VICTIM TOOK STAND

Earlier in the day, the father of the second victim had taken the stand. The man, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of his child, is currently facing a charge in the High Court for a separate case and turned up in cuffs.

He told the court that it was his first time hiring a babysitter when he engaged Sa'adiah to care for his daughter, who was 11 months old at the time.

READ: Baby poisoning trial: Babysitter's lawyer asserts that victim's grandmother planted the drugs

He had done so as he had been having arguments with his wife. They are now divorced.

The couple had decided to look for a nanny for their child for just one night, and dropped her off at Sa'adiah's house on Dec 25, 2016.

They spent the night out and returned to pick their daughter up the next morning.

The infant had a bruise on her head and appeared lethargic. She kept falling over when she tried to stand up and had seemed "very lethargic like she got no strength at all", the father told the court.

He said her eyes kept rolling upwards, "like being drugged".

The couple tried calling the accused, but she did not answer, so they turned up at her home. When they arrived, Sa'adiah slammed the door on them, the father told the court.

His wife took their daughter to the hospital and the infant was admitted for about a week.

The defence had questioned the victim's father on whether he had any illness, or kept any medicine at home.

He said he had depression, but did not keep any medication at home. He also said he had never been charged or convicted of substance abuse, and the prosecution objected when the defence asked what he was "serving time for".

The defence suggested to him that the bruises found on his baby's head were from rolling about on the floor.

"How do you get a head injury when you roll about on the floor?" the father said.

When asked if he had ever disciplined the baby, he said: "Of course we discipline the baby, but we never hit her at all."

The first tranche of the trial ended on Thursday afternoon and both sides will return to court next month to take further dates for the next tranche.

If found guilty of administering poison with the intent to cause hurt, Sa'adiah can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined. She cannot be caned as she is a woman.

Source: CNA/ll

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