Man on trial for murdering girlfriend's 9-month-old son claims baby fidgeted and fell from his arm
SINGAPORE: A man accused of murdering his girlfriend's nine-month-old son by inflicting blunt force trauma to the baby's head went on trial at the High Court on Tuesday (Apr 5).
Mohamed Aliff Mohamed Yusoff, 29, is contesting one charge of murder under Section 300(c) of the Penal Code. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death or to life imprisonment with caning.
The victim, Izz Fayyaz Zayani Ahmad, was pronounced dead at the National University Hospital accident and emergency section in the early morning of Nov 8, 2019. The police were alerted to the case shortly after.
The prosecution's case is that Aliff inflicted blunt force trauma to Izz's head at a car park in Yishun, intending to cause traumatic head injuries that led to the baby's death.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Han Ming Kuang and Lim Shin Hui will lead evidence from 55 witnesses to prove the offence of murder. Several police witnesses took the stand on the opening day of trial.
The victim's mother is set to testify that Aliff told her they should give the hospital a consistent version of events that Izz hurt himself when he fell from Aliff's arm.
The accused is represented by defence lawyers Mr Kanagavijayan Nadarajan and Mr Stephen Wong.
BACKGROUND TO THE INCIDENT
Izz's mother, Ms Nadiah Abdul Jalil, was Aliff's girlfriend. The couple got to know each other online in 2017 or 2018 and became romantically involved in September or October 2019. Izz was Ms Nadiah's son from her previous marriage.
On Nov 7, 2019, Aliff, Ms Nadiah and her brother bought a van for their delivery business.
That evening, Aliff used the van to drive Ms Nadiah and Izz to dinner at Wisteria Mall. At the restaurant, Izz accidentally spilt Ms Nadiah's drink and was taken away by Aliff to be cleaned up.
According to the prosecution, Ms Nadiah and Aliff had a disagreement over how Izz should be disciplined for this.
After dinner, they headed to Ms Nadiah's mother's flat. Along the way, Aliff volunteered to take care of Izz that night and bring the baby to his place in Yishun.
Ms Nadiah agreed as her mother would not be able to look after Izz while she was at work the next day. She also planned to stay over at her brother's flat that night as it was nearer to her workplace.
They arrived at their destination sometime after 9pm and Ms Nadiah went upstairs to get her belongings. She packed a baby bag for Izz, which she passed to Aliff, and hired a car to her brother's flat in Jurong East.
ACCUSED'S ACCOUNT OF WHAT HAPPENED
The accused gave police his account of what happened next, up to the time he met Ms Nadiah again later that night.
According to Aliff, he drove to a multi-storey car park at Yishun Street 81 and parked there at about 10.10pm. Izz was in the front passenger seat during the journey.
At the car park, Aliff sent a text message to his father to say that he intended to bring Izz home, but was told it was not a convenient time.
Aliff told police that he brought Izz to the rear cabin of the van, and that the baby was seated on the cabin floor near to the right sliding door. He left Izz in the van and locked it.
He then went to a nearby supermarket and bought some items at about 11.05pm. Aliff told police that when he returned to the van, he opened the sliding door on the right side of the van.
The prosecution's case is that Aliff caused the injuries that led to Izz's death sometime after returning to the van from the supermarket.
After returning to the van, Aliff called Ms Nadiah several times but she did not pick up. When she returned his call close to midnight on Nov 8, 2019, Aliff asked to meet her as he had something to tell her.
HE TELLS HER WHAT TO SAY
Aliff and Ms Nadiah eventually met up in Jurong East. As Aliff drove the van off with his girlfriend in the front passenger seat, he held her hand and kept repeating that he did not want her to leave him.
Aliff eventually stopped driving and went to the rear cabin of the van with Ms Nadiah. Izz was lying on his back on the floorboard of the rear cabin. Ms Nadiah put on a baby carrier, carried Izz and went back to the front passenger seat.
While driving off, Aliff told Ms Nadiah that he had been carrying baby items with one hand and Izz with his other arm while trying to close the door of the van.
Izz "suddenly fidgeted and fell headfirst onto the floorboard of the van", where he bounced and hit his head again on the van's footstep, before finally falling onto the car park floor, according to Aliff.
Aliff told Ms Nadiah that if anyone asked what happened to Izz, she should tell them that the baby fell.
He eventually agreed to take the baby to the hospital, but told her that they should convey this sequence of events:
- Aliff was carrying Izz's essentials in one hand and Izz in the other hand while trying to close the van door.
- Izz suddenly fidgeted and fell onto the floorboard of the van and hit his head, bounced, hit his head a second time on the footstep of the van, before falling onto the floor headfirst.
- Aliff called Ms Nadiah and that was why he did not call the ambulance.
- When Ms Nadiah met Aliff, Izz was still warm. However, Izz's body turned cold so they decided to go to the hospital.
Ms Nadiah agreed to relate this sequence of events and Aliff drove to the National University Hospital.
THREW PHONE INTO THE BUSHES
After parking the van and on the way to the A&E department, Aliff said he wanted to throw away one of his phones. Ms Nadiah sat with the victim at a food court while Aliff looked for a place to discard his phone.
When Ms Nadiah started walking towards the A&E department, Aliff told her they should make a detour to the bus stop outside. Near the bus stop, he threw one of his phones into the bushes outside the A&E.
They then went to the A&E ward, where Ms Nadiah fainted. Izz was handed over to medical staff and pronounced dead 10 minutes later, at 4.30am.
When police arrived at the hospital shortly after 5am, Aliff told them the sequence of events that involved Izz struggling and falling.
He said that he met up with Izz's mother after the baby's fall, and that they decided to bring Izz to the hospital after he lost consciousness. He also said that he gave Izz cardio-pulmonary resuscitation before they reached the hospital.
Later that day, Aliff was taken to Woodlands Police Division headquarters to assist with investigations. He was eventually escorted to the Police Cantonment Complex and arrested there.
THE PROSECUTION'S CASE
The prosecution argued that Aliff "behaved strangely" after meeting Ms Nadiah later that night, driving around aimlessly and saying that he wanted to avoid road blocks.
At one point, Ms Nadiah turned back and saw Izz lying on the floor of the van's rear cabin. She was shocked as she thought Izz was at Aliff's parent's flat in Yishun all along, according to the prosecution.
"The accused said Izz had passed away. When Nadiah carried Izz, she found that his neck was not flexible and his body temperature was cooler than usual. Izz was also unresponsive," said the prosecution.
Ms Nadiah wanted to bring Izz to the hospital, but Aliff was allegedly undecided about this and continued driving, according to the prosecution.
Aliff also allegedly suggested they should pay someone to bury Izz and report him as missing a year later. Ms Nadiah refused and insisted that Izz should be given a proper burial.
The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy concluded that the victim's cause of death was traumatic intracranial haemorrhage. He is set to testify that Izz's injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma to the head and face.
Aliff does not suffer from any mental disorder or intellectual disability, and was not of unsound mind at the time of the incident, according to an Institute of Mental Health consultant.
The trial continues.