SINGAPORE, Aug 11 — A father repeatedly abused his five-year-old son out of anger, picking the boy up by the neck on one occasion, shaking and choking him while saying he hated him.
The man, who worked as a delivery driver, also tied the boy’s hands together with a cord. The boy struggled so hard to break free that one of his teeth dislodged.
In separate incidents, the man hurled vulgarities and pointed his middle finger at a Go-Ahead bus driver in a road rage incident. He then bit his wife on the arm after an argument in their flat.
Yesterday (August 10), the 36-year-old Singaporean was jailed for nine months and fined S$4,500 (RM14,030) for his actions. He cannot be named due to a court gag order, as identifying him could lead to the possible identification of his family members.
He will have to serve 20 more days behind bars if he cannot pay the fine, which his lawyer — Ng Shi Yang, assigned to him from the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme — said is likely.
He pleaded guilty in a district court to two counts of ill-treating a child, and one charge each of harassment and voluntarily causing hurt. Five similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that he is still married to his wife, though estranged from her. They have two sons together.
He abused the older boy, who was aged five at the time and four years older than his brother.
First bit boy on thigh
The court heard on November 29, 2018, the man’s wife took the children to Ang Mo Kio polyclinic for their routine vaccinations. There, the older boy bit the other child once on the thigh while playing.
Later that evening, the man grew angry and decided to discipline his son after his wife told him about the incident.
He caned the older boy on one thigh, before biting him as well on the other thigh. He wanted the boy to feel how painful it was to be bitten, the court heard.
About a week later, the couple took the boy to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital for a planned visit.
He was admitted over concerns of deliberate injury. The police were notified after a nurse observed the man handling the boy roughly by grabbing him, forcing him to lie down and holding his lower limbs down.
The doctor also saw injuries, including lesions and bruises left behind by the abuse. The family proceeded to give inconsistent accounts of how they had arisen.
Boy vomited in van
A few months later on March 23, 2019, the man drove his van with his family to Toh Guan estate in Jurong East to collect parcels.
On the way there, the older boy vomited, creating a mess. The man began shouting and argued with his wife.
After they parked at a service road, the man collected some parcels while his wife cleaned up the van. He then helped to change the boy’s clothes upon returning, but got increasingly angry at the child for crying and shouting for his wife’s mobile phone.
The couple argued again after she told him to control his temper and not shout at them.
While standing outside the van, he abruptly picked the boy up with one hand, lifted him up for several seconds and choked him. He then put the boy back on the ground and shook him for a few seconds by the neck.
When the boy screamed and cried, the man scolded him and told him he hated him.
A resident who witnessed this called the police and gave the van’s registration number to the police.
The man then used a cord to tie the boy’s hands together and drove to Faber Walk.
The police managed to track the man down. He and his wife took the boy to the hospital the next day, where he was admitted and subsequently discharged into the care of his maternal grandmother.
He was placed in Mindsville@Napari, which serves those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He had a global development delay, and was initially aggressive and disruptive but has since improved.
Then, in July the same year, the man’s wife accused him of having an affair which he denied.
He threw a plastic chair at her in their matrimonial home but missed. She then bit his shoulder and he retaliated by biting her arms.
After he called the police, she stabbed him once in the chest with a knife. Police officers found them still locked in a struggle and arrested them after separating them.
He underwent an operation and was discharged the next day.
She has been charged in court and her case is pending.
Wife created ‘toxic environment’: Lawyer
In mitigation, his lawyer Ng said that he was diagnosed with major depressive disorder but there was no causal link to his offences.
“He had many problems with his marriage, obviously serious problems with his wife who herself is the subject of even more serious charges against (him).”
The lawyer added that travelling with his wife and two sons in the van for several hours, while he delivered parcels, “added no small amount of stress” to his life.
When District Judge May Mesenas questioned why there was a need for this as his wife was not working, Ng said that they simply had no other forms of help.
“Admittedly, he could have managed his anger and actions a lot better He feels very sorry for how he acted towards his sons. He’d like to serve his dues and move on,” the lawyer added.
“He has removed his wife from the equation completely, and is living a much happier and stress-free life and embarked on a relationship with his girlfriend. At the time, his wife created a very toxic environment for him in terms of finances and family.”
The man’s girlfriend was present in court as well.
Ng said that although his client was previously warned in relation to some charges and had re-offended, his circumstances have “never been more favourable for the last few years” and he is unlikely to commit more offences due to this.
In response, Deputy Public Prosecutor Deborah Lee said he broke the law not due to the toxic environment but out of his own anger issues.
District Judge Mesenas arranged for a community court conference after the man was sentenced, noting that he had declined medication at the Institute of Mental Health but needed counselling to deal with his anger and stress issues.
“There may be access to your children, you’ll see your wife — it’s learning how to deal with these situations,” the judge added.
For ill-treating a child, he could have been jailed for up to eight years or fined up to S$8,000 (RM24,942), or both. ― TODAY