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Mother who slapped toddler son and left him with brain injuries pleads guilty

SINGAPORE: A mother who repeatedly abused her barely two-year-old child, leaving him with severe brain injuries, pleaded guilty to her offences on Friday (May 10). 

The 27-year-old, who cannot be identified due to a court order, has three children and lives separately from their fathers, the court heard. 

She pleaded guilty to one charge of ill-treating her son under the Children and Young Persons Act, and two charges of voluntarily causing grievous hurt.  

On Mar 25 last year, she slapped her son hard, first on his right cheek, then his left, because he was digging into his diaper to play with his faeces after she had bathed him.  

The second slap caused the toddler to fall and hit his head on the leg of a metal table, the court heard.  

The boy started crying "violently" according to court documents. His mother's efforts to calm him down were in vain. 

When the boy started to shake, his mother thought he was having a fit and placed him facing upwards in her lap and massaged some oil on him.  

The boy was only partially conscious by then and was barely responsive, the court heard. 

His mother then called her friend for advice, afraid that her children, including her then four-year-old and one-month-old sons, would be taken away from her if the authorities were alerted to the incident. 

Her friend urged her to call for an ambulance and she did so about 10 to 15 minutes later. 

The victim was taken by ambulance to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), while his mother remained at home with her two other children.

At KTPH, the boy underwent an urgent procedure to remove part of his skull and also had a blood clot removed. 

He was later transferred to KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH). 

The 23-month-old child was assessed to suffer from spastic-dystonic cerebral palsy as a result of his brain injuries, according to a report on Jul 3. 

The condition comes with stiff muscles and involuntary muscle spasms. He suffered from poor control of his head and upper body, had difficulty understanding what was said to him and was unable to feed orally.

His developmental age was also assessed to be that of a six-month-old and he was deemed likely to be dependent on others for all daily living and mobility activities.  

However, court documents showed that as of Jan 25 this year, his condition had improved. 

He was able to crawl independently and walk with assistance, although he still partially needed to be fed through an artificial external opening into the stomach.


The woman had hit her son other times, according to court documents. 

"The accused’s relationship with the victim had been strained as she found the victim to be slow in his development," the prosecution said. 

When he was 21 months old, the victim was assessed at KKH to have mild global development delay, likely due to social deprivation, the court heard. 

As a result of his slower development, the mother would frequently lose her temper with him. 

Sometime before Mar 25, she punched her son's chest more than five times because she was frustrated that he did not listen to her instructions. 

Another time, she dragged the victim and yanked his left arm forcefully, resulting in a loud "crack" sound, according to court documents. 

She had asked the boy to prepare for a bath, but he refused and she was frustrated as her youngest child needed her attention. 

"The victim wanted to cry but dared not to cry out loud," the prosecution said. 

The woman then massaged her son's arm. After the incident, there was a bump and swelling on the victim’s left arm which remained painful for him, the court heard. The woman did not take her son to a doctor at the time.

Later at KKH, the boy was found to have suffered a fracture. 

X-rays revealed that the likely mechanism of the humerus fracture was twisting force to the left arm and that the fracture was about two to three weeks old. The humerus is the bone of the upper arm that connects the shoulder to the elbow.

The boy will be accepted in an early intervention programme, court documents stated, and is undergoing treatment to improve his muscle stiffness.

Four other charges were taken into consideration. If convicted, his mother faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine.

Source: CNA/ic(hs)


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