Singapore: A Singaporean mother who tortured her two-year-old son to death for not eating his breakfast and disobeying her was jailed along with her boyfriend on Tuesday for what the court described as the couple’s “senseless brutality”.
District Judge Bala Reddy cited the “ruthless and unrelenting” violence in the case and the couple’s lack of remorse before handing down an 11-year term for 41-year-old mother Zaidah, who goes by one name. Her boyfriend, Zaini Jamari, 46, was jailed for 10 years and sentenced to 12 lashes of the cane.
The court heard how over a five-week period last year, the couple punished the boy by making him stand for hours wearing only a nappy, kicking and slapping him whenever he got tired. “For more than a month, the two of you in a ruthless and unrelenting manner inflicted severe torture on your two-year-old child who was unable to retaliate or defend himself,” Reddy said.
The worst of the abuse happened on November 22 when the couple hit and kicked the boy after he refused to eat breakfast, stomping on his chest and force-feeding him dried chilli pepper. The same punishment was repeated that evening before the boy went to bed, where he was found dead the next morning.
An autopsy showed the boy had 41 external injuries, including bruises on his chest and legs, and a large welt on his forehead. Zaidah claimed the boy fell in the toilet and hit his head. The couple faced a combined total of 32 charges including causing grievous hurt and physical abuse of the child, who died a month short of his third birthday.
“When the injuries were explained to you and the most unbearable injuries captured in the photographs were shown to you in the dock, both of you were nonchalant and showed no remorse or sadness at the most pitiful sight of the deceased child,” the judge said.
“Your conduct to discipline a two-year-old with extreme violence leading to his death reveals a senseless brutality which must be punished by a sentence of corresponding severity.”
The case has stirred public outrage in Singapore, where child abuse cases have been increasing. More than 550 cases of serious child abuse were investigated by the ministry of social affairs last year — about 40 per cent more than the previous three years.