A young Singaporean couple is currently facing trial in the High Court for killing their 5-year-old son.
Azlin Arjunah and her husband Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman, who are both 27 years old, are accused of repeatedly ill-treating and assaulting their son. The boy succumbed to his injuries caused by being scalded with hot water in October 2016.
Parents attacked him over a period of time
According to the prosecution, the boy was allegedly abused for four months. And just between July to August 2016, there were more than 10 instances of abuse.
In July of the same year, the boy’s father used a pair of pliers on two separate occasions to pinch his son’s buttocks and thighs several times, causing bruises.
A month later, the boy’s mother hit him with a broom on his body, back, and legs for knocking over a biscuit tin. This left bruises on his stomach and caused him to develop a limp and a misaligned kneecap.
Between the end of August and early September, Ridzuan purportedly burned his son’s palm with a heated metal spoon after his wife Azlin told him to “deal with” the boy.
Later in October, the abuse intensified as both parents grew more irritated with their son. In one instance, Ridzuan flicked cigarette ash from a lit cigarette on his son’s arm after he did not answer him. After this, he even used a clothes hanger to hit him on the palm.
In the week leading up to the boy’s death, Azlin and Ridzuan both repeatedly threw hot water – which measured between 86.5°C and 98.7°C – at the boy which caused his skin to peel and blisters to form on his chest, shoulder, and leg.
2 days before the boy’s death, the couple confined him in a cat cage which measured 70cm in height 58 in width and 90cm in length.
The day of the attack
On October 22 – a day before the boy’s death – Ridzuan allegedly hit his head, hands, and legs with a broom to make him take off his shorts for a bath.
When in the toilet, Ridzuan again threw cups of hot water which caused the boy to fall onto the floor and lose consciousness.
Afraid that they might be arrested for child abuse, the couple waited for more than six hours before taking the boy to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The boy died the next morning.
Following his death, the police immediately arrested Ridzuan at his flat, while Azlin was arrested two days later.
Boy lived with foster mum for 4 years
According to media reports, the boy spent the first four years of his life with Azlin’s close friend, Ms. Zufarina Abdul Hamid as both Azlin and Ridzuan were unemployed and on financial assistance at that time.
Ridzuan, however, was said to have made a small income by selling various items such as amulets, love potions and old currencies on the e-commerce website Carousell.
During the time with Ms. Zufarina, the boy was said to be well taken care of. He also called the woman “mama.” The child lated moved backed in with Azlin and Ridzuan in 2015.
Parent’s mental health condition
After the boy’s death, the couple were examined by psychiatrists to assess their mental state.
Azlin was found to be suffering from an adjustment disorder with depressed mood while Ridzuan was found to have antisocial personality traits like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and intermittent explosive disorder (IED)
The court, however, deemed them as of sound mind and fit to plead.
During the trial, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien called the murder “as horrific as it is tragic” and reprimanded the couple for their “cruel and abhorrent conduct.”
“Leaving aside the physical abuse he suffered, one cannot imagine the pain and torment the deceased must have endured in the months leading up to his death. He was tortured to his death, and had no one to turn to,” he added.
If convicted of killing their 5-year-old son, Azlin and Ridzuan will face the death penalty or life imprisonment with caning.