SINGAPORE: A 35-year-old man who subjected his nine-year-old son to a beating over homework was sentenced to four months' jail on Thursday (Dec 6).
The man, who cannot be named due to a gag order protecting the boy's identity, pleaded guilty in June to one charge of ill-treating a child in his custody.
The incident occurred at about 9pm on Aug 4 last year, when the man's 34-year-old wife left the house for dinner with her friends.
She left her son in her husband's care, and the young child was seated at the dining table doing his homework while the accused was watching television.
More than an hour later, the boy asked his father for help with his homework.
The man told him to think of the answers on his own, and the boy gave several answers which were wrong.
"The accused was angered by the victim's mistakes," said the prosecutor. He left the dining room, returning with a plastic hanger while his son begged him for leniency.
He grabbed the boy's hand and yanked him forcefully from the chair, causing him to tumble onto the floor.
He then pulled him up by his left leg, so that the boy was held upside down, and hit him on his buttocks and legs with the hanger, swinging it down "with his full strength", court documents said.
The man then shouted at his son, who was lying on the ground in a daze.
The boy told his father that he really did not know the answers to his homework questions, enraging him further.
The accused kicked his son twice, shouting at him: "You know why you don't know, you're stupid!"
He then threw the hanger at the boy and kicked him again before chasing him into the bedroom, where he hit the boy's buttocks with his hands.
The assault on the boy was captured by a closed-circuit television camera mounted on a ledge in the dining room and was played to the court.
A neighbour called the police at 10.43pm, saying that he heard a child crying out and he thought it was child abuse.
When the boy's mother returned home, the child told her what happened and she retrieved the CCTV footage.
The boy was admitted to hospital, where a medical report showed that he suffered multiple hematomas or bruises on his body, including hook-shaped ones measuring 3cm and 6cm.
The couple is currently undergoing divorce proceedings.
DEFENCE ASKS FOR PROBATION, SAYING RELATIONSHIP HAS IMPROVED
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jotham Tay asked for four months' jail, saying that the facts were alarming.
"It is clear that it was not done simply in a controlled manner for the purpose of discipline, but out of rage," he said.
The man's defence lawyer, T U Naidu, asked instead for probation, saying that the relationship between the accused and the victim has "greatly improved".
The accused has been attending counselling, he added, and the entire family is now close enough to assure the court that there will not be any chance of reoccurrence.
"It is admitted that he lost his cool," said the lawyer. "My client is greatly remorseful. Any form of custodial sentence is going to affect what has been built up thus far between the (accused) and the son."
Addressing the accused, who stood in the dock with his head bowed throughout the hearing, District Judge Eddy Tham said there was no excuse for the "totally disproportionate" actions, no matter how frustrated the accused had been with his son.
He added that while he noted the improvement in the relationship, a message must be sent out on such violence by parents and caregivers, and said it was fortunate that the resulting injuries had not been more serious.