Woman with schizophrenia acquitted of murder of daughter, to be confined: report

PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore
PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore

SINGAPORE — A woman stabbed her elder daughter repeatedly in the neck and torso, after hearing voices telling her that her eight-year-old was an evil spirit.

CNA reported on Tuesday (20 September) that the High Court found the 36-year-old mother had killed her daughter on 10 August last year at a residential unit in Geylang Lorong 31.

However, it acquitted the Singaporean woman of a murder charge due to her mental incapacity, as she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and found to be of unsound mind at the time of the killing.

Instead, the court ordered for the woman - who cannot be named because of a gag order - to be kept in safe custody and for the case to be reported to the Minister of Home Affairs.

According to Section 252 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the minister may then order her to be confined in a psychiatric institution, prison or another suitable place of safe custody during the President's pleasure.

Behaving strangely, rambling incoherently

The woman had two daughters after getting into a relationship with a man in 2007. They did not get married. Around 2014, the woman's boyfriend returned to China for work, while the woman stayed in Singapore with her daughters.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, the woman and her daughters moved into the Geylang Lorong 31 unit to live with her other family members.

According to The Straits Times, the woman began hearing voices in her head in March 2021, telling her that her food and water were being poisoned, and that her elder daughter was an evil spirit.

Her family members also noticed that she behaved strangely. For instance, she suspected her phone and laptop were hacked, and that people were following her.

In the two days prior to the killing, the woman behaved erratically and was caught on surveillance cameras aimlessly taking the MRT.

On the morning of 10 August 2021, she began rambling incoherently, rattling off names of Chinese historical figures.

Her family members heard cries from the two girls and found the elder girl motionless on the floor while the woman was naked and holding a pair of scissors. The woman's brother saw a bloodstained knife on the floor and threw it towards the kitchen, while his wife called the police.

Schizophrenia untreated for several years

CNA reported that investigations revealed the woman was suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the offence. It had gone untreated for several years and worsened in severity as time progressed, and she was suffering her first psychotic episode at the time of the murder.

A psychiatrist assessed the woman and said she was severely psychotic at the time of the offence and was incapable of knowing the nature of her acts. Her psychosis caused her thinking and judgment to be so distorted and out of touch with reality that she was unable to differentiate between right and wrong, both morally and legally.

The prosecution urged the court to acquit the woman of her murder charge on the basis of an unsound mind, and defence lawyers Choo Si Sen and Choo Yean Lin agreed with the prosecution's submissions.

"A young innocent life is lost. That cannot be undone. However, moving on, we pray that the (woman) could recover speedily so she can be reunited with her aged parents and her youngest daughter," Yean Lin said.

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