SINGAPORE — A babysitter accused of poisoning two babies under her care was found guilty by the court on Thursday (15 October).
When Sa’adiah Jamari, 39, babysat a five-month-old baby girl over two months in 2016, her mother found that the baby would return from these sessions unusually drowsy and with swollen eyelids.
The parents of another 11-month-old girl found that their daughter had the same issues after they picked her up from Sa’adiah during the same period.
When these two babies were brought to the hospital for assessment, various drugs were found in their system.
Sa’adiah had claimed trial in February to two charges of causing hurt by means of poison to the two babies.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yan Jiakang said that Sa’adiah, a nurse, had obtained the poisons through prescriptions, brought over by her doctor friend, or by buying them over the counter.
Sa’adiah offered freelance babysitting services towards the end of 2016 and cared for the two girls. The five-month-old was cared for by Sa’adiah on eight occasions in November and December 2016, while the 11-month-old was cared for on the night of 25 December 2016 and picked up the next morning.
The victims’ mothers testified in court that their babies were normal when they were dropped off at Sa’adiah’s home, but that the girls were drowsy when picked up.
After the last babysitting session on 9 December 2016, the five-month-old’s mother brought her daughter to Parkway East Hospital after noticing her unusual behaviour. The baby was admitted until 13 December 2016, during which doctors found her drowsy, floppy and unable to follow objects.
The older baby’s parents picked her up on 26 December 2016 and sent her to the hospital after finding her drowsy and cranky. She was unable to sit upright, had droopy eyelids and had difficulty walking.
Samples taken from the younger and older babies contained 10 and eight substances respectively.
These included alprazolam – a sleeping pill with a sedative effect – and chlorpheniramine, an anti-histamine used to treat allergies and may cause sleepiness, diazepam and zolpidem. All were classified as poisons by the Health Sciences Authority.
Regular prescriptions for drugs
Sa’adiah had regular prescriptions for alprazolam, diazepam and zolpidem in November and December 2016 as she was prescribed the drugs at least once a week by Everhealth Medical Centre.
Evidence of the drug were also found in her home, including a milk bottle with traces of zolpidem, an empty slab of the same drug, and a full slab of chlorpheniramine, which she was given by her doctor friend for runny nose.
All the substances found in the victims had also been found in Sa’adiah’s own blood or urine samples taken in September 2016 – two to three months before the offences.
During the course of her case, Sa’adiah had admitted that the only person who could have administered the poisons to the victims in her home was herself.
The prosecution painted Sa’adiah as a liar whose testimony and defence were “riddled with contradictions and outright lies”. The nurse had often denied her familiarity with drugs and her access to them, in an attempt to distance herself from the drugs fed to the babies, but evidence showed otherwise.
While admitting that she had lied about her alprazolam and diazepam prescription in her defence documents, Sa’adiah sought to belatedly offer an explanation for her lies by claiming that she only knew diazepam by its trade name as she did not take it much, stated DPP Yan.
“This is an obvious lie given that she had specifically referred to diazepam by its medical name in her filed defence (and that) she is an enrolled nurse who knows the importance of taking the correct medication,” said the DPP.
Furthermore, Sa’adiah was prescribed diazepam “extremely frequently in 2016” – 52 times in the year, and five times a month from November to December 2016 – the DPP pointed out.
When confronted with her medical records of diazepam prescriptions, Sa’adiah then changed her story to claim that she had taken diazepam from a general practitioner but not from a hospital.
While defending herself, Sa’adiah also tried to paint the victims’ parents as irresponsible, claiming that they picked up their daughters late, although she was the one who asked them to be fetched later.
Sa'adiah will return to court on 24 November for her sentencing.
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