Belgian expat jailed 5 years for killing son, 5, by pressing cushion over his head at D'Leedon condo

Selina Lum
The Straits Times
Monday, Aug 22, 2016

A Belgian expatriate who suffocated his five-year-old son at his Leedon Heights apartment amid a bitter custody battle with his estranged French wife was on Monday (Aug 22) jailed five years.

Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng said the sentence is consistent with precedent cases.

Banker Philippe Marcel Guy Graffart, 42, had pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of culpable homicide. He admitted pressing a cushion over the head of his son Keryan Gabriel Cedric Graffart at his 32nd-storey apartment at d'Leedon condominium between 9pm and 10.17pm.

Graffart, who was the head of fund distribution for the Asia-Pacific region with Nordea Bank, was initially charged with murder.

The charge was later amended to the lesser offence of culpable homicide as he was assessed to be suffering from major depressive disorder, which substantially impaired his judgment.

On Monday, the prosecution sought five to six years' jail for Graffart. "Though labouring under a psychiatric condition at the time of the offence, it is clear that the accused's act was one that was ultimately motivated by selfishness," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz.

Graffart's lawyer Ramesh Tiwary said that not a day passes without him regretting his foolish act. "There is no price that my client would not pay to turn the clock back," said the lawyer. Mr Tiwary said Graffart saw four doctors after losing 10kg in the custody battle but none of them realised he needed psychiatric help.

After killing his son, Graffart left his apartment and sped along the Marina Coastal Expressway before deliberately crashing his car into the wall of the tunnel. He was taken to Singapore General Hospital with minor injuries.

There, he called the police and said he had tried to kill himself. The officer told him to wait, but he left the hospital, took a taxi and returned to his apartment.

He contemplated - and decided against - other means of suicide, such as jumping off his balcony and stabbing himself, before going to the Bukit Timah Neighbourhood Police Centre at about 4.30am on Oct 6.

An officer on duty noticed cuts and scrapes on Graffart's forearms, the needle of an intravenous drip attached to his right hand, and a hospital identification tag on his left wrist.

When questioned, he revealed that he had come from a hospital after trying to kill himself by crashing his car into a wall. He then told the officer: "I have done something really bad to my son."

When police officers went to his apartment, they found Keryan's body on the bed in the master bedroom. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at 6.17am.

An autopsy found bruises and abrasions on the boy's head but could not ascertain the cause of death. Zolpidem, a drug used to treat insomnia which is not recommended for use by children, was found in his blood.

The maximum punishment is 10 years' jail, caning and a fine.

The Straits Times

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.