SINGAPORE — Afraid of losing his two-year-old daughter to his estranged wife’s supposed new boyfriend, a father decided to commit suicide and take his child along with him.
The man then tried to slit his neck before suffocating his daughter by pressing a pillow to her face. He then stabbed himself again in the neck but survived the incident.
The man, who cannot be named due to a gag order, was jailed for six years on Wednesday (29 July) after he pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable homicide. He was found to be suffering from Major Depressive Disorder at the time of the offence.
The man divorced the toddler’s mother in October last year after four years of marriage, with divorce proceedings initiated in November 2018.
While both lived separately, the man was given visitation rights to his daughter every other weekend.
The toddler was slated to spend 15 and 16 June last year with her father.
On 15 June, the man and woman met at a parent-teacher meeting at their child’s preschool. The toddler was supposed to leave with her father. But the girl cried when her mother tried to leave. The parents consoled her before the woman left.
The man saw another man waiting for his then-wife by a Mercedes car. He believed the man to be his then-wife’s boyfriend as he had seen him on his wife’s Instagram account.
The father spent the day and the next together with his daughter before returning to his home, where CCTV cameras captured the girl in good spirits.
The man wondered about his wife’s supposed new boyfriend despite the divorce not being finalised and ruminated on his lack of visiting privileges and custody over his daughter. He was worried about the prospect of his daughter being introduced to his wife’s new boyfriend and ‘losing’ her.
Agitated, the man grabbed two knives from the kitchen, sat next to the girl and slit his neck. He decided to take his daughter with with him in death as he did not want to lose her.
As his daughter slept, the man took a pillow and put it over his daughter’s face, pressing with full force until she became motionless. He then stabbed his neck twice more.
When the man failed to return the girl to her mother by 9pm on 16 June, the mother visited his apartment.
She called the police officers after the man failed to answer his phone, and a locksmith later prised open the locks. When the group entered they saw the toddler lying motionless on the bed and the man lying in a pool of blood. He was still bleeding and did not respond to the group.
Resuscitation efforts were carried out on the toddler but she did not react and was declared dead afterwards.
A psychiatrist who examined the man on four occasions found that his Major Depressive Disorder contributed significantly to his use of violence. The man could perceive of no other way to maintain the relationship with his daughter besides ending their lives.
The man was also found to be suffering from Delusional Disorder at around end-2017, as shown by his baseless suspicions about his wife’s alleged infidelity. This then developed into Major Depressive Disorder around the time of the offence.
The marriage broke down around end-2017 when quarrels arose over the woman’s supposed affair. The woman began moving out of the matrimonial flat for periods of time with their daughter, and left the flat for the last time in April 2018. She filed for divorce months later.
According to defence lawyer John Tan, on 16 June last year, everything was normal until the man prepared to send his daughter back to her mother and suddenly experienced a “very depressed moment”.
The lawyer said the man related, “I don’t know when’s the next time I’ll be hearing her again, or seeing her...all my emotions overrides (sic) my consciousness, everything, and that’s where slitting of my own throat, then after that suffocating of the child to death, then I continue to stab myself in the neck.”
The man’s daughter was the purpose of his life and his love for her never wavered, Tan added.
Asking that his client be jailed three years, the lawyer said that with continuous medical treatment, the man’s condition would stabilise and he could reintegrate into society.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Choong sought seven years’ jail for the man, saying that he understood his actions and their consequences despite his mental condition. The man had betrayed his daughter in the worst possible manner, DPP Chong added.
Noting that there was no planning or premeditation involved in the killing, Judicial Commissioner Dedar Singh Gill said, “The mind of the accused will be imprisoned for the rest of his life with the knowledge that he was responsible for the death of his daughter.”
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