Man who allegedly murdered his daughter washed and dressed her body before taking her to SGH in pram

Selina Lum
The Straits Times
July 5, 2023

In the months before a five-year-old girl was allegedly murdered by her father, she and her younger brother lived in squalid conditions and were confined naked in the toilet of a one-room flat, prosecutors told the High Court on Wednesday.

The two children were let out for meals and when their father and stepmother needed to use the toilet. The father also installed a closed-circuit television camera so that he and his wife can monitor the children in the toilet.

On the morning of Aug 12, 2017, more than 15 hours after he discovered that his daughter was dead, the man took her body to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). She was severely malnourished and covered in bruises, abrasions and scars.

“This is a tragic case of child abuse that resulted in the death of a five-year-old girl,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Han Ming Kuang when he opened the prosecution’s case on the first day of trial.

Prosecutors are accusing the man of murder, alleging that he assaulted the girl between the night of Aug 10 and the early hours of Aug 11 to inflict fatal head injuries. He realised the child was dead at about 7pm on Aug 11, the court was told.

He then packed up items linked to her death and cleaned the flat. The man also washed his daughter’s body, dressed her and placed her in a pram.

The 43-year-old arranged with his wife to tell the police that the girl and her brother were not in the flat but were at his mother’s flat with him, then he went out to buy beer. He assaulted his wife after he returned.

The next morning, he threw away the items he had packed earlier into different bins at nearby blocks. The items included the CCTV camera, a pair of scissors, mobile phone, cane, rubber hose, child-safety gate and bath towels.

He then took the girl and brother out in the pram and went to SGH. Attempts were made to resuscitate her but she was pronounced dead at about 10.50am. The hospital reported the death to the police, and the man was arrested on the same day.

In his initial statements to the police, he lied that the girl died because she hit her head on a slide, the prosecution said. He also lied that he had spent the “whole night” away from the flat with the girl and her brother on Aug 11.

The accused cannot be named to protect the identity of his surviving son, who was four when the girl died.

He married his wife, who has a daughter from her previous marriage, in 2015. They have three children together.

The two children from his previous marriage were placed in foster care by the Child Protective Service of the Ministry of Social and Family Development in 2014 but returned to his care in 2015.

At the time of the offences, the couple lived with their two biological children and the two from the husband’s previous marriage. The wife was pregnant with another child.

The prosecution said the man intended to put his two children up for fostering or adoption.

In 2015, the man began assaulting them. The alleged abuse included acts such as punching, kicking and slapping the girl, lifting her by the neck against a wall and pointing a pair of scissors at her, and throwing her onto a mattress. Similar abuse was allegedly inflicted on the boy.

From early 2016, they were kept to a corner of the flat near a window, where they spent most of the day. A few months later, they were confined in the toilet.

The man’s 32-year-old wife took the stand on Wednesday as the prosecution’s first witness.

She testified that before marrying the man, she told him that she would take care of her children and he would take care of his.

She told the court that her own children were “normal” while her stepchildren were “skinny” because they were not given enough food.

When DPP Norine Tan asked why there was a difference in the way she treated her stepchildren, she said: “I don’t have the feeling of them being my kids.”

Pressed on what she felt for them, the woman replied flatly: “Nothing.”

The woman said her husband confined the girl and her brother to a corner of the flat because the siblings tore their diapers. Referring to photographs of the flat, she said a wardrobe and bookshelf were placed to barricade the children in the corner.

Besides the charge of murder, the man faces 25 other charges, including those for the ill-treatment of the two children. These charges have been stood down for now while the trial proceeds on the single murder charge.

The Straits Times

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