SINGAPORE: A man took out his frustrations on his three-year-old son, caning him excessively and leaving marks all over his body that were spotted by the boy's grandmother and led to a police report.
For one charge of ill-treating a child by causing him unnecessary physical pain, the 33-year-old man was sentenced on Friday (Aug 7) to nine months' jail.
He cannot be named due to gag orders imposed to protect the identity of his son.
The court heard that the man, a logistics coordinator, had his son with a 27-year-old woman. As both adults were working and could not afford infant care, they initially placed the boy in the care of a family friend.
In March 2018, the parents took the boy back to stay with them. Soon after this, his father began caning him on his palm whenever the boy refused to comply with instructions or did something wrong.
From June 2018 onwards, he started caning the boy on his arms, legs and back. He would sometimes move around so that the cane hit the boy's chest and the front of his torso.
On average, he caned the boy once every two weeks, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Rashvinpal Kaur Dhaliwal.
He claimed that he was stressed from work, from the family's financial problems and from the boy's "misconduct".
His reasons for caning him included: When the boy did not tell the accused that his diapers were full, when the boy did not tell his father what he wanted, when the boy snatched items from his sister or other children, when the accused felt stressed after a day of work, or when the accused felt stressed over financial troubles such as his salary or having to pay maintenance to his ex-wife.
In June 2018, when the boy's parents took him to his grandmother's place for Hari Raya, the older woman noticed multiple cane marks on the boy's arms and legs.
When asked, the boy's mother said that the accused had caned the boy.
When the grandmother saw the boy again on Aug 26, 2018, she noticed that the boy had multiple cane marks on his arms, legs and back, and found that the accused had caned him.
Two days after this, the boy's grandmother visited the boy's home wanting to take him to the doctor.
When the accused refused to let her do so, the boy's grandmother lodged a police report, saying that her grandson had been abused.
The boy was taken to hospital a day after with multiple cane marks on all four limbs, as well as his torso and back, ranging from 1cm to 10cm in length.
THE BOY WAS AT HIS MERCY: PROSECUTOR
The prosecutor asked for at least nine months' jail, saying that the sentence should send "an unmistakable signal to would-be offenders that such conduct would be met with unrelenting punishment".
This was a case where a father caned his son excessively over several months whenever he felt stressed or frustrated, and the abuse would have gone undetected if not for the boy's grandmother.
The case is aggravated because of the number of injuries caused, the age of the boy and the man's breach of trust as a parent.
The boy was "utterly defenceless and was completely at the mercy of the accused", said the prosecutor.
"For a child of that age, all he could do was to signal his suffering with cries upon cries. Sadly, these served to irritate and infuriate the accused, leading to further abuses. The victim was at an formative stage of his life and would ostensibly be much more vulnerable to abuse and injury," she added.
In mitigation, the man said he is the sole breadwinner as his wife is now unable to work.
The judge noted the multiple cane marks and said the court cannot condone this.
For ill-treating a child in his care, the man could have been jailed for up to four years, fined up to S$4,000, or both.