Man on trial for scalding son to death once strangled pregnant sister, court heard

·Senior Reporter
The pet cage which Azlin Arujunah and Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman allegedly kept their son in. Photo: Court documents
The pet cage which Azlin Arujunah and Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman allegedly kept their son in. Photo: Court documents

SINGAPORE — A man who is accused of murdering his five-year-old son through sustained abuse in 2016 had a history of attacking people including strangling his elder sister while she was pregnant, a court heard.

Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman, 27, was a bad tempered and impatient man who would get angry at minor infractions, his only sibling, Norhafizah Mega Abdul Rahman, testified in court on Monday (20 January).

At the time of the strangling incident, Norhafizah was four to five months pregnant.

Ridzuan and his wife, Azlin Arujunah, also 27, are accused of multiple counts of ill-treating their child from July 2016, and murdering him. The couple allegedly confined the boy in a metal cage meant for the family’s cat, used a heated metal spoon to burn his palm, punched his face, pinched his buttocks with pincers and hit him with a broom.

The couple are also accused of inflicting second-degree burn wounds to over three-quarters of the boy’s body by pouring hot water over him. The deceased boy cannot be named to protect the identity of his surviving five siblings.

The abuse culminated in the boy, then five years old and nine months, collapsing on 22 October 2016 after being scalded by hot water for the last time. His parents brought him to the hospital six hours later and he passed away on 23 October. They were arrested within the next two days.

Taking the stand the 14th day into the trial, Norhafizah, 35, said that her brother had also assaulted her ex-boyfriend and a friend of their mother.

The defence had previously submitted a report that concluded Ridzuan had been suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intermittent explosive disorder and hypnotic use disorder at the time of his offences.

Ridzuan was hot-tempered even as a boy: Aunt

While Norhafizah had stayed with her younger brother until he was two years old, the siblings had parted ways for years and only shared a flat again after Ridzuan was released from the Singapore Boys’ Home at 16 years old.

He moved in with Norhafizah, their mother, stepfather and Norhafizah’s five children for the next two to three years. Ridzuan later brought Azlin to live in the flat.

Asked by defence counsel Eugene Thuraisingam to describe Ridzuan’s temperament after the two-year stint at the Singapore Boys’ Home, the woman said “his hot temper worsened”.

He had assaulted a friend of their mother, causing the victim’s eyes to bleed, after discovering that their mother had gone to jail but not the friend. “He could not accept my mother was incarcerated but not her friend,” said Norhafizah, who didn’t disclose the nature of the offence involving her mother.

Norhafizah, a GrabFood delivery driver, also recalled a 2015 incident at a market when Ridzuan nearly attacked a man who had bumped shoulders with him. Norhafizah held onto her brother to restrain him.

“If I was arguing with my ex-boyfriend, he would interfere. He would ask that person to come out and he would beat him up. I do not know...what’s the problem,” Norhafizah said through a Malay interpreter.

Her brother also had a habit of interrupting conversations and showing his impatience by “jumping into action”.

Once, when Norhafizah accidentally kicked Azlin in the stomach during an argument, her younger brother strangled her and pushed her into a room. Both women were pregnant then.

“I found out later (Azlin) was pregnant. Ridzuan told me, ‘If you want to fight, you can fight but why kick Azlin’s stomach,’” she said.

While the sister had not witnessed Ridzuan abusing Azlin, there was an occasion when Azlin approached her for help, crying.

“I do not know what they argued about but Azlin came to my house, crying (and) saying to me that Ridzuan beat her up.” Ridzuan was arrested for the battery and Norhafizah bailed him out. She later learned that Ridzuan had beaten his wife up nine times.

Norhafizah also observed that the couple’s treatment of their deceased son was “unfair” as they would ask him to sit still and remain quiet, while treating the other children normally.

Ridzuan’s maternal aunt, Kasmah Latiff, who used to care for Ridzuan as a child, also testified in court that she used to bring Ridzuan to work when he was a young boy.

The boy, then eight years old, would poke her hand with his stationery if she refused to give him money to buy toys. When the aunt scolded him, he would raise his voice.

“If he wanted to buy things, he would beat my hands and pull my clothes.”

The trial continues on Monday with the aunt resuming her testimony. Ridzuan’s uncle is also expected to testify.

Ridzuan and Azlin had earlier declined to testify in their defence, when called upon to by Justice Valerie Thean.

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