SINGAPORE: Every day for five weeks before his death, two-year-old Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser suffered at the hands of his own mother and her boyfriend.
Their abuse came to light when the boy eventually died of his injuries on Nov 23, 2015.
The couple 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 chilli down his throat.
The boy’s mother Zaidah, 41, and her boyfriend Zaini Jamari, 46, pleaded guilty on Thursday (Jun 23) to one count each for causing grievous hurt causing death, and three counts each for child abuse.
The couple and their one-year-old baby, together with Daniel, Zaidah’s son from a previous relationship, lived in a one-room Telok Blangah flat with two housemates, who witnessed the abuse.
The couple, both cleaners, will have another 26 and 18 charges for child abuse respectively, taken into consideration when they are sentenced on Jul 5.
ABUSE WAS “HORRIFIC AND INHUMANE”
In court on Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Claire Poh called the “physical, mental and emotional abuse” of a “defenseless, voiceless” two-year-old child “horrific and inhumane”.
The court heard that on one occasion on Nov 18, 2015, the toddler had dozed off while standing with his hands on his head. Upon seeing this, his mother started slapping him on his face and chest to wake him up. The family’s housemate saw the toddler’s mouth bleeding as his mother assaulted him.
The boy fell to the ground, and Zaidah twisted her son’s hands and stomped on them. She then carried him, by his hands and legs, to the toilet and changed his diapers. Then she forced him to continue standing with his hands on his head, DPP Poh told the court.
BOY SLAPPED, KICKED, FORCE-FED CHILLI
On Nov 22, a day before his death, Daniel endured hours of abuse.
At about 10am, when the toddler refused to eat breakfast, Zaidah slapped him. She 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. When he did not get up, 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 any more. He was then sent to stand in the corner.
Around 7pm that day, the toddler leaned on the bedframe, tired from standing all day. 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 chili, 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.
COUPLE LIED TO HIDE ABUSE
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.
Calling for at least a nine-year jail term and nine to 12 strokes of the cane for Zaini, and a stiffer jail term for Zaidah, DPP Poh pointed to the couple’s lack of remorse.
The couple were “more concerned with protecting themselves” and displayed “total and cool indifference to the tragedy that had happened”, the prosecutor argued. In fact, the couple returned home to watch television after being questioned by the police over the toddler’s death, DPP Poh said.
It took the prosecutor several minutes, reading out loud to the court, a list of more than 40 external injuries found on the boy’s body during an autopsy. He also had a rib fracture and bleeding in the brain.
District Judge Bala Reddy instructed a court officer to show the couple, standing side by side in the dock, pictures of the numerous injuries they had caused to Daniel, taken after he had died.
But the couple showed no reaction, the judge noted, a testament to their lack of remorse. When asked whether they had anything to say, both used the opportunity to plead for light sentences.
For causing grievous hurt resulting in death, the couple could face up to 10 years’ jail and a fine or caning. For child abuse, they could be jailed up to four years and/or fined up to S$4,000, per charge.