Man who hit infant son, causing severe head injuries, jailed and caned

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
Singapore’s State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

A man who hit and fractured his six-month-old son’s skull in a fit of frustration was sentenced to six years’ jail and six strokes of the cane on Friday (9 November).

The 30-year-old man, who works two jobs as a driver, pleaded guilty to one count of causing grievous hurt on Thursday.

He had hit his baby boy in August 2016, after being woken up by his cries.

His actions have caused his child, now two years and eight months old, to become physically and intellectually impaired permanently. The toddler has a stunted developmental growth of a four-month-old, and suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, among other conditions.

He and his elder brother, who is three years and ninth months old, have since been placed in foster care, while their younger sister remains with their 26-year-old mother.

None of the parties in the case can be named to protect the children’s identity.

Judge noted ‘horrendous injuries’

In sentencing the man, District Judge Eddy Tham noted the “horrendous injuries” the child suffered, for which he had to undergo multiple procedures.

“For all the child has been through, unfortunately, he has suffered severe brain injuries which have deprived him of living an independent life,” said the judge.

He added that the man had breached the parent-child trust by using violence on the child, but noted that the case was not a matter of systemic child abuse, with the man expressing remorse.

The District Judge added that the court needed to send a clear message to “all parents and caregivers that any use of unwarranted violence on (children) will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law”.

The sentence is an uplift of the five-and-a-half-year jail sentence the prosecution sought on Thursday.

Woken by son’s cries

On 26 August 2016 between 1am and 3am, the man was sleeping when he was woken by his son’s cries. Frustrated, he shouted at the boy before smacking him once on the head. The boy, who was being cradled by his mother, cried harder at the impact.

The two parents did not notice anything amiss until at about 1pm, when the mother found the boy semi-conscious and weak. She called an ambulance and the baby was brought to the hospital.

A CT scan of his head showed that the baby’s skull had fractured in multiple areas. He also had excess fluid in his brain and a haemorrhage in both eyes along with bleeding in one eye, among other injuries.

After an operation, the infant developed symptoms of vomiting, lethargy, irritability and other neurological movement disorders from brain injuries.

Medical problems persist

He was discharged some seven months after the incident into foster care, but his medical problems persist.

In a medical report dated 12 October this year, the baby’s foster parents observed that he is unable to do simple tasks, such as sit up, turn or flip on his own. He cannot move his limbs voluntarily and could not react to a blanket which covered his face. He can only cry in pain and cannot form speech, and needs to be constantly watched to ensure that he is not in danger.

The infant also has to be fed through a feeding tube. He often has sleepless, crying nights and is unable to lie flat on his back.

He has been diagnosed with epilepsy, obstructive sleep apnea and dystonic cerebral palsy, a condition where the muscles spasm painfully.

The medical report noted that the baby will likely continue to require assistance for daily living and mobility.

For causing grievous hurt, the man could have been jailed up to 10 years, and fined or caned.

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