A Singaporean couple stood trial in High Court on 12th November for the murder of their five-year-old.
According to Today Online, Azlin Arjunah and Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman, both 27 years old, physically tortured their son over the span of four months in 2016 until he succumbed to his injuries and died at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The boy, who cannot be named, was initially given into the care of Azlin’s friend, Zufarina Abdul Hamid, in 2011 when he was a month old. This was because Azlin could not take care of him as she and her husband were unemployed at the time.
Zufarina took care of him like he was her own son and occasionally took him to see his parents. When he turned four years old in 2015, he began living with his parents again. The abuse started a year later around July 2016 when the boy suffered physical abuse and psychological torment in various ways.
Here’s what allegedly happened as reported by Today Online:
- July 2016: Ridzuan is accused of using a pair of pliers on two separate days to pinch the boy’s buttocks and thighs several times, causing bruises.
- August 2016: Azlin allegedly hit the boy with a broom on his body, back and legs, after he denied knocking over a biscuit tin and scattering biscuits on the kitchen floor. This left marks on his stomach and caused him to develop a limp and a misaligned kneecap. She also allegedly pushed the boy on his shoulder, causing him to fall and hit his head on the edge of a pillar.
- End of August to early September 2016: Ridzuan is said to have heated a metal spoon over the stove and burned the boy’s palm with it, after Azlin told him to “deal with” the boy.
- October 2016: Ridzuan purportedly burned the boy’s palm again with a heated metal spoon. He also allegedly flicked cigarette ash from a lit cigarette on the boy’s arms when he refused to answer him, and used a hanger to hit him on the palm when he denied stealing milk powder.
- Oct 15 to 17, 2016: Azlin allegedly grabbed the boy by his ankle to prevent him from running away, filled a glass with hot water from a dispenser, poured it over his right leg three times and over his hand about five times. The boy’s skin began peeling and blisters formed on his chest, shoulder and leg.
- Oct 17 to 19, 2016: Azlin is said to have grown angry when the boy shouted: “Are you crazy or what?” in Malay when she splashed hot water on him. Both Azlin and Ridzuan then allegedly threw several more cups of hot water at him. Ridzuan is said to have burned the boy’s palm again with a heated spoon, after finding out he had stolen milk powder to eat.
- Oct 19 to 20, 2016: Azlin purportedly threatened to splash the boy with hot water when he refused to answer their questions, but did not as he was standing near the Internet cables. She then allegedly pushed him forcefully, causing his head to hit the wall and bleed. Ridzuan then allegedly punched the boy in the face.
- Oct 21 to 22, 2016: The couple is accused of confining the boy in a cat cage, which measured 70cm in height, 58cm in width and 90cm in length. The boy was 105cm tall.
- Oct 22, 2016: Ridzuan allegedly hit the boy with a broom on his head, hands and legs to make him take off his shorts for a bath. When the boy was in the toilet, Ridzuan then allegedly threw cups of hot water at him while Azlin shouted for the boy to take off his shorts. The boy fell forwards onto the floor and stopped moving after Ridzuan allegedly poured more water over his back.
According to scientific analysis by the Health Sciences Authority, the temperature of the water would have been between 86.5°C and 98.7°C, causing immediate burns on the boy’s body.
The boy was severely injured after he was “cruelly and unrelentingly” splashed with scalding water, but his parents did not give him any medical attention until he collapsed.
Only after six hours did the couple take him to the hospital because they were afraid of getting arrested for child abuse.
Doctors found second to third-degree burns covering two-thirds of his body, while there were cuts on his head and face, nasal bone fractures and extensive bruises over his limbs and back. The next morning, the boy failed to respond to treatment and died.
A pathologist certified his cause of death as severe scald injuries, which were “sufficient in the ordinary cause of nature to cause death”, and blunt force craniofacial trauma.
On the day his son died, Ridzuan was arrested while Azlin was arrested two days later. Police officers raided their flat and seized an electric kettle, metal cat cage, pliers, broom, and glass mug among other items.
The pair were then brought to psychiatrists who discovered that the couple were individually suffering from different mental disorders.
Dr Jacob Rajesh found that Azlin suffered from an adjustment disorder with depressed mood at the time, which substantially impaired her mental responsibility.
Dr Ung Eng Khean also found that Ridzuan was suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and intermittent explosive disorder (IED), and found a “causal link” between his mental illnesses and his offending behaviour.
However, that did not mean he was of unsound mind.
In the end, prosecutors decided to rely on numerous statements the couple gave during investigations, in which they admitted to physically abusing the boy and scalding him in the week before he died.
“This is a murder as horrific as it is tragic… The accused persons are solely responsible for these injuries. Their cruel and abhorrent conduct belies a blatant disregard not only for his welfare, but for his life,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien said.
“Despite the deceased’s extensive burns and obvious weakening, they prioritised their self-interests over his.”
The trial continues on Tuesday afternoon before Justice Valerie Thean. If convicted of murder, the pair faces the death penalty.
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