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High Court dismisses appeal by nurse who was jailed 7 years for poisoning two infants with sleeping pills

SINGAPORE — A freelance nurse who fed sleeping pills to two infants she was babysitting in 2016 has lost an appeal against her conviction and seven-year jail sentence.

Registered nurse Sa'adiah Jamari (pictured in foreground) is contesting two counts of administering poisons to a five-month-old baby and an 11-month-old child in 2016 in separate cases.

Registered nurse Sa'adiah Jamari (pictured in foreground) is contesting two counts of administering poisons to a five-month-old baby and an 11-month-old child in 2016 in separate cases.

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  • Sa’adiah Jamari failed in her appeal to the High Court against her conviction and seven-year jail sentence
  • She was found guilty of poisoning two infants under her care with drugs
  • She had prescriptions to some of the drugs
  • Justice Aedit Abdullah found that no one else had access to the drugs or the opportunity to feed them to the babies except her
  • Sa’adiah remains out on bail because her lawyers want to file a fresh application to the Court of Appeal

SINGAPORE — A freelance nurse who fed sleeping pills to two infants she was babysitting in 2016 has lost an appeal against her conviction and seven-year jail sentence.

High Court judge Aedit Abdullah on Tuesday (April 19) rejected Sa’adiah Jamari's argument that someone else had laced the baby food with poison, ruling that no one other than Sa'adiah had the opportunity to poison the baby girls or had access to the drugs.

After all, some of the drugs were regular prescriptions meant for the nurse and were discovered in her own home, the judge noted.

Justice Abdullah then found that a lower court judge had not made a mistake in convicting the 41-year-old, who is a divorced mother of two herself. The sentence imposed was also adequate, the judge added.

During the High Court appeal, Sa’adiah maintained the same argument that she was not the one who had separately poisoned the babies, then aged five and 11 months old.

She asserted that the younger victim’s grandmother could have planted the drug in small doses in the baby’s food.

Sa’adiah had claimed trial in the State Courts and was found guilty of two charges of causing hurt by administering poisons.

Her team of lawyers from Luo Ling Ling LLC — Mr Chua Eng Hui, Ms Luo Ling Ling, Ms Sharifah Nabilah and Ms Heeqmah Wahianua — told Justice Abdullah that they will be filing an application to the Court of Appeal to answer a question of law that is of public interest and that arose from the appeal.

Because of this, Justice Abdullah allowed Sa’adiah to remain out on bail. However, he ordered her to start her jail term on May 17 if she does not file her application on time.

For each charge of administering poison with the intent to cause hurt, Sa'adiah could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. Women cannot be sentenced to caning under Singapore law. 

WHAT HAPPENED

The court heard during Sa'adiah's trial that she was an enrolled nurse and offered freelance babysitting services towards the end of 2016.

She had regular prescriptions for two kinds of sleeping pills, alprazolam and diazepam, and an insomnia medication, zolpidem.

The court heard that the baby girls’ mothers had engaged her services online, and had taken their children to Sa'adiah's home on several occasions in 2016. 

After the fourth out of eight sessions, the mother of the five-month-old girl found her baby unusually drowsy and cranky.

The baby was diagnosed with the common cold at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), where a blood test was taken. The doctors, however, did not check for drugs in the infant's blood.

After the last session on Dec 9, 2016, when the girl became drowsy again, her mother took her to Parkway East Hospital. Doctors found that she was flopping around and unable to follow objects.

On a separate occasion, Sa'adiah babysat the 11-month-old girl once on Christmas Day in 2016.

Her parents took her to KKH upon realising that their baby had droopy eyelids, could not sit or stand upright without support, and had difficulty walking after the session.

The mother of the younger baby filed a police report in late December 2016. 

Following Sa’adiah's arrest, the authorities found some of the drugs on a handkerchief and milk bottle at her home. 

They also found an empty slab of zolpidem, a sedative otherwise known as Stilnox, and a slab of antihistamine tablets for the treatment of allergies.

During the trial, Dr Peter Looi, who is Sa’adiah’s friend, testified that he often gave her some of the drugs as treatment for her medical conditions.

These included orphenadrine, a prescription-only muscle relaxant that was found in the five-month-old baby girl’s blood and urine.

ISSUE WITH TOXICOLOGY REPORT

In his judgement, the High Court judge also noted a toxicology report that stated that all of the drugs, which were found in the younger baby's blood, were detected in blood and urine samples collected from Sa'adiah.

These samples were obtained about two to three months before her offences.

She had testified that the samples were taken after she made a police report about allegedly being sexually assaulted. She then argued that the toxicology report should not be used in the present case.

However, Justice Abdullah ruled that relying on such evidence to establish a wholly separate offence was within the bounds of the law.

The judge then said that he was concerned "about the extent to which law enforcement agencies or the prosecution may use information obtained in the course of one investigation in another set of proceedings".

In any case, even if the toxicology report could not be used, it would not affect his decision to uphold Sa'adiah's conviction, Justice Abdullah added. Other evidence, such as her prescriptions, supported the district judge's finding that she had access to the drugs.

Related topics

crime court baby poison sleeping pills drugs

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