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The Straits Times
July 6, 2023
Horrifying footage of a man lifting his four-year-old daughter up by her hair and punching her was played in court on Thursday, on the second day of his trial for murdering the girl in 2017 when she was five.
The 10-minute surveillance video, captured in 2016 and retrieved from his wife’s mobile phone, showed the man towering over the girl and her younger brother, who were wearing only diapers and barricaded in the “naughty corner” of a one-room flat.
In the video, he points a pair of scissors at the girl and appears to be scolding her before launching a vigorous attack on her. He grabs her by her hair and lifts her from the floor, rains punches and kicks on her, holds her against the wall by her neck, and canes her.
After the attack, he wipes the blood from her face with a tissue and changes her diapers.
In the dock, the accused watched calmly at first but later wiped his eyes with his T-shirt.
The 43-year-old man is accused of murder by physically assaulting the girl in the toilet of the flat between the night of Aug 10, 2017, and the early hours of Aug 11, 2017. The prosecution contends that he intended to cause the fatal head injuries found on her.
He took her body to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on the morning of Aug 12, 2017 – more than 15 hours after realising that she was dead, prosecutors said. He was arrested that afternoon.
Beginning in early 2016, the girl and her younger brother, who were from the man’s previous marriage, were confined to a corner of the flat, the court was told. The couple, who married in 2015, had their first child in January 2016 and their second in December that year.
The victim and her brother were later confined naked in the toilet. They were let out for meals and when their father and stepmother needed to use the toilet.
The man cannot be named to protect the identity of his surviving son, who was four at the time of the fatal assault.
On Thursday, continuing her testimony as a prosecution witness, his wife was asked if she tried to stop the assault shown in the video.
The 32-year-old woman, who has filed for divorce, said she took away the scissors and shouted at him, but she did not do any more to stop him because she was scared he would beat her instead.
At the time of the alleged murder, she was pregnant with their third child.
On Aug 10, 2017, her husband asked her to get her stepchildren to exercise, she said.
The woman said when the girl did not squat and stand as she was told, she asked her husband to take over and walked back to the living room.
She said she heard his voice getting louder and then a bang, which sounded like something had hit the wall. She said she rushed to the toilet and saw the girl crying.
The man told her he had hit the child, she said. He also told her that he wanted to “make” the two children healthy and send them to the Ministry of Social and Family Development for adoption.
In the evening on Aug 11, the man told her that the girl was dead, she said.
She said she told the man that she did not want to go to prison. When Deputy Public Prosecutor Norine Tan asked why she was worried about prison, she replied: “Because I’m staying together with him... and I’m not protecting the kids (from abuse).”
The woman said the next morning, the man woke her up and said he was going to SGH.
He also said he was going to force her to have sex with him and assault her, and told her to lodge a police report and seek a personal protection order against him.
“He said that if I were to report against him, his history of anger management will come out,” she said, adding that he had gone for anger management counselling before they were married.
She said the man carried out what he said he would do. Before taking the girl and the boy out in a pram, he reminded her to go to the police, she said.
In cross-examination, the man’s assigned lawyer, Mr Mervyn Cheong, played a video of the woman commanding her stepchildren to sit down and stand up. The siblings had blank expressions and seemed tense as they held stiff postures.
Mr Cheong said she sounded annoyed at the siblings. She replied: “Because when I said sit, (the boy) was like daydreaming.”
The trial continues.