Couple who beat, force-fed toddler chilli found guilty of causing his death
SINGAPORE — Over five weeks, she and her boyfriend rained blows on her two-year-old son, often egging each other on as they slapped him or stamped on his body — and on at least two occasions, forced dried chilli down the toddler’s throat.
And on the morning of November 23 last year, when they could not wake the boy after a beating the previous day, the couple did nothing, leaving their flatmates to call for an ambulance. The boy, Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser, was later pronounced dead that same day.
On Thursday (June 23), Zaidah, 41, and her boyfriend Zaini Jamari, 46, were convicted of dozens of ill-treatment charges under the Children and Young Persons Act. They were also convicted on one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to the boy, resulting in his death.
The prosecution called for at least nine years’ jail for Zaini and an additional nine to 12 months for the Zaidah. They also asked for nine to 12 strokes of the cane for Zaini, who was not the toddler’s biological father.
A district court heard that Mohamad Daniel lived with the couple in a one-room flat in Telok Blangah with their one-year-old daughter, their landlord and the landlord’s niece. Investigations revealed that Zaidah had kicked and slapped the toddler almost every day over five weeks from October 18 to Nov 22 last year, and was often accompanied by Zaini in her assaults.
During this period, Mohamad Daniel — who was 0.9m tall and weighed 10.8kg, and was usually clad in diapers — was often made to stand with his hands on his head throughout the day as “punishment”. When he was unable to stand straight or appeared tired, Zaidah would slap his face repeatedly — with so much force that he fell onto the ground in one instance, and bled in the mouth on another.
Said Deputy Public Prosecutor Claire Poh: “Unlike an older child who may have the maturity and physical strength to protect (himself) by running away, the deceased had no means of escape from the unit.”
The day before Mohamad Daniel died, the couple was angered that he had refused to eat breakfast, and began hitting him. Zaidah later “forcefully stamped on (his) chest” with her right leg when the boy was on the floor, the court heard. The boy was then made to stand all day in the living room. When the couple spotted him resting his hand on a bedframe that evening, they slapped his face several times. When he collapsed onto the floor with his eyes closed, Zaini force fed him spoonfuls of dried chilli.
Barely an hour later, the pair ordered him to stand without moving as a form of punishment. When he could not do so, Zaidah shouted at him and pinched him, and Zaini slapped him several times. When one of the slaps landed on the couple’s daughter, Zaidah kicked Mohamad Daniel in his chest and stomach, causing him to fall and hit his head. Zaini then forced dried chili down his throat, this time causing mucus to flow from his nose.
When the boy could not be awakened the next day, the landlord and Zaidah’s niece, who witnessed the assault by the couple the previous night, called for an ambulance. He was pronounced dead at around 9am that morning from a “head injury”, the court heard.
Said DPP Poh: “At such a young and vulnerable age, one would have expected the deceased to be nurtured in a safe and secure home environment. Yet, it would be apposite to described (his) living conditions as comparable to that of a concentration camp.”
The couple’s “callous lack of remorse” could be seen in how they lied to the police, claiming the boy had sustained a bump on his head from slipping in the toilet. Zaidah also lied that her son had a habit of “pinching himself” when paramedics asked about his injuries, the court heard.
The pair is expected to be sentenced on July 5.