SINGAPORE: A man who killed his toddler and hid the crime with his wife by burning the girl’s body in a metal pot was sentenced to 21-and-a-half years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane on Tuesday (Sep 19).
The 35-year-old Singaporean cannot be named due to gag orders to protect the surviving victims. The gag orders imposed by the court also cover the identity of the wife and where the killing occurred.
However, the judge stressed that the victim’s first name, Umaisyah, should be published so that she can be remembered by her name instead of as “the deceased” or “the victim”.
The man pleaded guilty to one count of culpable homicide not amounting to murder by causing his daughter’s death and failing to get her medical help.
He also pleaded guilty to three charges including rioting, ill-treating his stepson and consuming a specified drug. Another five charges will be considered in sentencing.
The court heard that the man and his then-wife had four children of their own, including the two-and-a-half-year-old victim who was born in 2011.
The woman had a daughter and a son from a previous marriage.
When Umaisyah was three to four months old in November 2011, she was placed in foster care as her father had been detained in a drug rehabilitation centre and her mother was assessed to be unable to take care of her.
In June 2013, the girl was returned to her parents.
She often cried as she had spent one-and-a-half years in foster care and her parents were not familiar to her, the prosecution said.
GIRL WAS ABUSED
The court heard that Umaisyah was abused by her parents until her eventual death. Her father would hit her with items such as a belt or a hanger and would punch her thigh and pinch her body.
The couple also abused their other children in a similar fashion.
In March 2014, the accused and his wife were upset at the girl as she was playing with her faeces after soiling her diaper.
When the girl cried “despite being asked not to”, her mother slapped her cheeks and “flicked her lips”, the prosecution said.
The accused, who had consumed meth earlier that morning, forcefully slapped his daughter two to three times.
As a result, the girl’s legs went weak. She sat on the floor and her body started leaning to the right while her upper body bent forward. She stopped crying and started gasping for air.
Her mother saw blood and liquid coming out of her mouth and nose.
Umaisyah had suffered a significant traumatic brain injury which led to a concussive brain seizure.
Her father performed a few rounds of cardiopulmonary resuscitation but she did not respond. Despite the life-threatening nature of her injuries, neither parent called for help or took her to hospital.
They were concerned that they would be arrested for her injuries. The accused was also worried about being arrested for his drug use.
It is possible that medical intervention could have saved the girl, the prosecution said.
COVERING THEIR TRACKS
The couple, who have since divorced, tried to cover their tracks, destroying evidence and lying to the authorities and their own family members about the victim’s whereabouts.
On the day Umaisyah died, her parents placed her body in a metal pot and set her body on fire in the back of the accused’s lorry.
They made sure her body was fully burnt before placing the pot in a cardboard box, sealing it with masking tape and covering it in cling wrap.
They kept the box under the kitchen stove in their flat.
Umaisyah’s uncle, named only as Z, was warned against touching the box and told it contained items from the accused’s lorry.
When the Ministry of Education contacted them in 2017 to check why the girl had not registered for Primary 1, the mother lied that her estranged husband had taken the child away, while the accused lied that his relatives were caring for the girl in Malaysia.
The mother’s brother, Z, became increasingly curious about the contents of the box. He tried to throw it away in 2017 as it was dirty and there were cockroach eggs in the cling wrap.
When Umaisyah’s mother found out, she had the box freshly wrapped and warned her brother not to touch it again.
After the mother went to prison in 2019, her brother opened the box and saw a lump that was decomposed and wet.
He later showed the contents of the pot to his sister’s friends when they visited the flat after attending her sentencing for other crimes.
The friends felt uneasy and reported it to the police.
The child’s body was “charred beyond recognition”, the prosecution said. At autopsy, small bones and a loose tooth were uncovered from the soot and debris, the court heard.
All facial features were absent, and the hands and feet could not be identified.