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Man on trial for 5-year-old daughter's murder: Wife says he hit girl, younger brother like they were adults

SINGAPORE — Two young siblings had been left naked all the time in the toilet at home because they would often tear off their diapers and fill them up with water, their stepmother told the court on Thursday (July 6), adding that she felt "sad for them". 

Man on trial for 5-year-old daughter's murder: Wife says he hit girl, younger brother like they were adults
  • A woman testified on Thursday (July 6) against her husband who is standing trial for allegedly murdering his daughter 
  • The girl and her younger brother had been confined naked in the toilet at home for about a year
  • The woman said that this was because her stepchildren would often tear off their diapers and fill them up with water
  • She adding that she felt "sad for them" and was remorseful

SINGAPORE — Two young siblings had been left naked all the time in the toilet at home because they would often tear off their diapers and fill them up with water, their stepmother told the court on Thursday (July 6), adding that she felt "sad for them". 

The 32-year-old woman was testifying as a prosecution witness in the trial of her husband — the children's biological father, who faces a single murder charge of abusing his daughter to death.

At the start of the trial on Wednesday, when asked what kind of feelings she had towards her stepchildren, she had said: "I don't feel anything."

The court had heard that the the girl and her brother had been forced to live in the toilet of the family's one-room flat for around a year. 

Sometime in August 2017, the five-year-old girl was found dead after being allegedly assaulted by her father, now 43, the day before.

Her brother was just under four years old at the time.

On Thursday, the stepmother took the stand to describe how her husband, whom she is in the process of divorcing, often assaulted the girl. 

She said that she seldom intervened as the man would just hit or push her away when he was in an agitated state. 

She also said she herself had hit the children at times. On one occasion it was because she was "shocked" to find they were eating faeces. She did not say why they did so.

At other times, she was angry when she saw that the children had caused a mess at home. 

The couple cannot be named due to a gag order by the court.


Addressing the court, the girl's stepmother said the way her husband hit the girl and her younger brother was "abnormal". 

The prosecution had told the court on Wednesday that the man started assaulting the pair sometime in 2015. 

When probed by Deputy Public Prosecutor Norine Tan on Thursday, she said: "It's exaggerated. The way he punch or hit is like non-stop and it does not look like him." 

She added that the man would seem like a different person when he got angry or frustrated.

"He punched (the children) as if he was hitting an adult," she said. 

Closed circuit television footage (CCTV) showing the girl being abused in March 2016 was played in court. She was around four at the time, the court heard. 

The couple had an application on their phones which showed live and recorded footage from CCTV cameras they had set up to watch the girl and her brother while they were being confined. 

In the 10-minute long video, the man can be seen using a pair of scissors to threaten the girl while she huddled in a corner. She had only diapers on. 

At one point, he grabbed her by the head and lifted her up from the floor before hitting her body multiple times. 

He also kicked her repeatedly. At one point the blow was so strong that she collapsed to the ground. 

After leaving the area for a few seconds, he returned and sat on the floor.

He then retrieved a cane from a cabinet close by and used it to hit her head, arms and legs repeatedly. 

Towards the end of the video, he took a wet tissue to wipe away the blood from the girl's face. 

The man broke down after watching the video in court. 

After playing the video, DPP Tan asked the woman if she stopped the man from hitting the girl that day. 

The woman replied that she only took the scissors away as she was scared that something would happen to the man or the children. 

However, she added that she shouted at him to stop as she saw him choking the girl but did not physically stop him as she was scared that she would get hit. 


The court previously heard that the children were moved to the toilet of the flat a few months after being confined near the window in their home in early 2016. 

They would spend nights sleeping in the toilet naked and were only let out in the day for meals or whenever the adults needed to use the toilet. 

When asked on Thursday why they were not clothed, the woman said that they wore diapers at first.

However, they kept tearing and filling the diapers up with water, so the man eventually decided to leave them naked, she said. She did not elaborate on how they filled up the diapers with water.

DPP Tan then asked how she felt seeing them confined in the toilet. 

The woman said: "I feel sad for them. I feel remorseful." 

However, she did not stop the man as she had already told him before marriage that she was willing to care for only her biological children. 


Providing more details of the fatal incident, the woman said that she had gone to the toilet to get the children to exercise on Aug 10, 2017 — two days before the girl was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. 

She said that the man had asked her to do so as the children had been lying down for the whole day. 

However, when the girl's brother refused, she left the toilet and went to the mattress where she slept with her own two daughters. One was around one and a half years old while the other was eight months old. 

The man then took a cigarette before going to the toilet. 

"At first there was no sound followed by talking and then an increasing voice," she said. 

When probed by DPP Tan, she said that the voice sounded angry and there was a loud bang after the man started shouting. 

She then went to the toilet after hearing the girl crying loudly, where she saw her squatting down and whimpering.

The next day at around 7pm, the woman needed to use the toilet and asked the pair to wake up. 

However, the girl was motionless. So the woman switched on the water hose and sprinkled water on the girl's face but she was still unresponsive. 

Upon touching her cheek, she found that it was cold. She then left the toilet and called for her husband who went to the toilet to check on her. 

After a while, he came out of the toilet and said that the girl "was not there anymore". 

The day after, the man woke his wife and said that he was going to the hospital.

He then said that he was going to force sex on her and hit her and told her to report him to the police. It was unclear why he did this.

She complied and lodged a police report about his assault on her that day. 

On the same day, some 15 hours after he realised the girl had died, he took his son and the girl's body to a hospital. 


The man's defence lawyer Mervyn Cheong then asked the woman to confirm several details about the CCTV footage depicting the abuse. 

He asked if she walked into the video frame to try and pass the cane — which was later used to hit the victim — to the man. 

She responded: "I cannot remember." 

"The reason you walked away is because you saw that he had already gotten the cane. Do you agree or disagree?" Mr Cheong asked. 

In response, she repeated that she could not remember. 

Another video from August 2016 was shown in court. The man is seen walking down the corridor outside their one-room flat to their home, pushing a pram with the girl and her brother in it. 

When the pair stepped into the house, they remained standing and staring at the woman, who was filming the video. 

Mr Cheong said that the woman did not address the children by name. Instead she called the girl "A (eh)" and the boy "guy" in Malay. 

When asked why she did so, the woman took a while to think and said that she did not know why. 

Pressing her again, Mr Cheong asked: "So sometimes you will call her by her name and on other times you will call her A (eh)"? 

She responded: "Most of the time no, sometimes I don't even talk to her". 

The defence also played another video taken by the woman, showing the man sleeping on a mattress in their home while the two children played next to him.

"You took this video to show the man that he was close with them because you were jealous of them. Do you agree or disagree?" asked Mr Cheong.  

Frowning, she said she disagreed. 

The trial continues on Friday morning. 

Related topics

court crime child abuse murder

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