SINGAPORE – A man who pushed his girlfriend’s one-year-old son off a bed with so much force that the baby landed on the ground 2m away with a broken skull was on Monday (Sept 19) jailed for 6½ years with six strokes of the cane.
The infant had bleeding in his brain, but, rather miraculously, survived that ordeal on March 25 last year after undergoing emergency brain surgery.
Now aged three, the boy is in foster care. He is still undergoing rehabilitative therapy – including speech therapy, physiotherapy and music and play therapy.
His tormentor Franklie Tan Guang Wei had pleaded guilty earlier this month to one charge of causing grievous hurt and three of ill-treating a child.
He also admitted to another count of child abuse, which was taken into account in sentencing.
District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim said a deterrent sentence is needed to signal society’s disapproval and reprobation over Tan’s conduct.
She said: “The most glaring and obvious aggravating factor is the fact that these acts of abuse were committed against a defenceless and vulnerable child…
“His only crime was the fact that he cried, a natural thing for him to do at his age, and could not be consoled, which (Tan) found frustrating.”
The child and his 25-year-old mother cannot be named to protect the boy’s identity. He was born in mid-2013, after his father lost contact with his mother.
In August 2014, she got into a relationship with Tan. The next month, the infant’s behaviour changed.
“(He) appeared to be fearful of males and started having nightmares in his sleep,” Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) Dillon Kok said.
Two nannies who looked after him also found bruises on his body. “When (the mother) was questioned, she denied that (he) had been abused and claimed that there were ‘spirits’ in the flat.”
In November 2014, the mother got pregnant with Tan’s child and moved in with Tan and his mother.
On Nov 8, the baby’s cries woke the couple. Tan slapped him once, leaving finger marks on his cheek and bruising near his ear.
Three days after the incident, a nanny took photos of the bruises and swelling. When confronted, the mother said he fell off the bed.
The nanny made a police report about the injuries on Nov 19 and the Child Protective Service (CPS) was informed. The baby was then put in the nannies’ care, and the mother and Tan were allowed only weekly supervised access.
But in January last year, they were suspended from all contact after he was found with scratches on his thighs after a visit.
They were granted supervised access again the next month. But on March 8 last year, Tan’s grandfather left the infant at Tan’s flat. That night, frustrated with his cries, Tan threw the baby at his mother, who was about 2m away. The infant fell against her body.
Later, Tan and the mother were allowed to spend nights with him. But on the morning of March 25, angered by the baby’s cries, Tan hit his buttocks twice, causing a bruise.
After the mother went to work, leaving the infant alone with Tan, the baby vomited on the bed. Angry, Tan forcefully pushed him off the bed with his right arm.
The infant landed face-up about 2m away and vomited again. Tan took him to the toilet to shower, but did not check the water temperature first, scalding his upper back.
Later, Tan noticed the baby to be in a daze and semi-conscious. He was also vomiting repeatedly. Tan told the mother, who went home to find the infant weak and very pale. They took him to hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.
The mother has been charged with two counts of permitting Tan to ill-treat the baby. Her trial is scheduled to begin on Sept 26.
It is not known if Tan and the mother are still together.
APP Kok had asked for seven years’ jail and six strokes of the cane. He noted, among other things, that Tan had no qualms about continuing his abuse of the baby, which began in November 2014, despite knowing that CPS was investigating him.
Defence lawyer Gino Hardial Singh, meanwhile, asked for not more than 3½ years’ jail and three strokes of the cane. He submitted a psychiatric report which stated that Tan has persistent depressive disorder, poor emotion regulation and low intelligence.
Tan was also physically and emotionally abused, and neglected when he was younger, the lawyer noted.
For causing grievous hurt, Tan could have been jailed for 10 years and fined and caned. For ill-treating a child, he could have been fined $4,000 and jailed for four years per charge.
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