Daniel's dad: Losing him has shattered me
Father of Daniel, the toddler who died after being abused by his mother and her lover, blames himself for boy's death
Today's Hari Raya Puasa celebrations would have been his son's fourth.
Mr Mohamad Nasser Abdul Gani was hoping it would be his first celebration with Mohamad Daniel, who was born while he was in prison.
He was also planning to buy his son new clothes and take him to visit their relatives together.
But Mr Nasser, who turned 42 yesterday, will be celebrating neither his birthday nor Hari Raya this year.
With tears streaming down his face, he told The New Paper yesterday in Malay: "Daniel only had three Hari Rayas in his short life and I was not there to celebrate any with him.
"Now I never will."
Daniel died last November, a month short of his third birthday, after a horrific torture campaign by his mother, Zaidah, 41, and her boyfriend, Zaini Jumari, 46.
Mr Nasser was present in court yesterday when Zaidah was jailed for 11 years, and Zaini for 10 years with 12 strokes of the cane.
But he left the courtroom angry. He broke down more than seven times when he spoke to TNP.
"Yes, they get 10, 11 years. But the years will go by in the blink of an eye, and they will get back to their lives," he said.
"Meanwhile, my son remains dead. It is not enough."
During the court proceedings, he fixed his gaze on his ex-wife, who turned to glance at him once before looking straight ahead again.
He said: "All I could do was stare at her. If I could, I would have asked her, 'Why? Why did she have to hurt my son like that?'"
The last time they spoke was in October 2012, two months before he started an 18-month jail term for drug-related offences.
She went to tell him she was pregnant with his son. Her next words shocked him.
"She told me: 'You will never get to see him. Until the day I die, you and your family will never get to see him.'
"True enough, I never did," said Mr Nasser, before breaking down again.
Mr Nasser said they had met through mutual friends in October 2011.
They rushed into a relationship and a few weeks later, he took Zaidah home to seek his family's approval to get married.
But his hopes were dashed.
His brother, Mr Abdu Manaf Al Ansari, said: "My family, especially my father, rejected the idea of my brother marrying Zaidah because no one knew her background and her family."
So the couple decided to get married in Batam, Indonesia, in early 2012.
Their union did not last long.
Mr Nasser said he caught Zaidah with another man - Zaini - in May that year and he divorced her soon after.
A few months later, Mr Nasser starting serving his jail sentence.
Not a day has gone by without him regretting his actions, he said.
"I blame myself. If I could turn back time, I would stay away from drugs, then maybe Daniel would still be here.
"Instead, I was not there when he was born. I could not be the father he needed to protect him."
The hope of meeting Daniel once he got out helped Mr Nasser survive prison, which he said was a dark time for him.
Again, his hopes were dashed. After his release, he spent a fruitless year searching for Zaidah and Daniel.
The next time he heard about Daniel was last November when the police called to tell him about Daniel's death.
When asked why Zaidah would so viciously abuse the child she carried to full term, Mr Nasser paused before answering: "She was taking it out on my son. She was crazy and hit him out of anger.
"Maybe it was because I divorced her, I will never know. But he did not deserve to be hurt like that. He was a child. What did he know? What did he do wrong?"
After the case ended, Mr Nasser went up to Madam Masita Hussin, 51, who had taken care of Daniel for most of his life, to thank her.
He said: "At least my brother and I know that in his short life, Daniel was in the care of people who loved him."
Losing the opportunity to be with his son has shattered him, Mr Nasser said.
"My birthday and Hari Raya... Nothing means anything to me any more because I have lost my son."
I blame myself. If I could turn back time, I would stay away from drugs, then maybe Daniel would still be here.
Instead, I was not there when he was born. I could not be the father he needed to protect him.
- Mr Mohamad Nasser Abdul Gani
Maybe it was because I divorced her, I will never know. But he did not deserve to be hurt like that. He was a child. What did he know? What did he do wrong?
- Mr Mohamad Nasser Abdul Gani
Judge: Zaidah's acts are 'simply incomprehensible'
Principal District Judge Bala Reddy did not mince his words when he addressed Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser's mother, Zaidah, and her boyfriend, Zaini Jamari.
Daniel was a month shy of his third birthday when he died after a savage beating by the couple.
The court was earlier told about how they inflicted punishments and beatings on him almost daily in the month leading to his death.
The judge told them yesterday: "For more than a month, the two of you in a ruthless and unrelenting manner inflicted severe torture on your two-year-old child, who was unable to retaliate or defend himself."
He said the injuries described in the pathologist's report and the photographs show how horrific and inhumane their punishments were.
"In fact, when the injuries were explained to you, and the most unbearable injuries captured in the photographs were shown to you, both of you were nonchalant and showed no remorse or sadness at the most pitiful sight of the deceased child," the judge added.
"He had been subjected to abuse and pain at the hands of the very persons who should have been his source of support, comfort and happiness.
"The idea of a mother causing such grievous hurt and ill-treatment of the baby she had carried for nine months is simply incomprehensible."
The judge noted that the consultant psychiatrists who examined the accused concluded they did not have any intellectual disability, nor do they suffer from any mental disorder.
"This court fully agrees with the prosecution's plea for a deterrent sentence that is sufficiently long to signal that such crimes perpetrated against vulnerable young victims will not be tolerated in our society.
"Your conduct to discipline a two-year-old with extreme violence leading to his death reveals a senseless brutality which must be punished by a sentence of corresponding severity," he said.
"I have taken into account the fact that you have pleaded guilty to the charges; otherwise, the sentences would have been longer."
The judge then sentenced Zaidah to 11 years' jail, and Zaini to 10 years, one more than the minimum nine years recommended by the deputy public prosecutor, and 12 strokes of the cane.
- Shaffiq Alkhatib
In fact, when the injuries were explained to you, and the most unbearable injuries captured in the photographs were shown to you, both of you were nonchalant and showed no remorse or sadness at the most pitiful sight of the deceased child.
- Principal District Judge Bala Reddy
ABOUT THE CASE
Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser was only two years old when he was abused almost daily from Oct 18 to Nov 22 last year.
He was slapped, kicked, stamped on, and force-fed chilli in a one-room rental flat at Block 19, Telok Blangah Crescent.
His two tormentors were his mother, Zaidah, 41, who goes by only one name, and her boyfriend, Zaini Jamari, 46.
Daniel died on Nov 23, a month from his third birthday, from a blow to his head sustained in a fall after Zaini kicked him the night before.
Zaidah was jailed for 11 years yesterday, and Zaini was jailed for 10 years and given 12 strokes of the cane.
On June 23, the two cleaners each pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Daniel and three counts of ill-treating him.
Zaidah also faced 26 other charges of ill-treating her son, and Zaini faced another 18. They were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The toddler's autopsy report shows he had 41 external injuries, including bruises on his forehead and chest. Daniel also had a fracture on his right third rib and suffered bleeding in his brain.
For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, Zaidah and Zaini could have each been jailed up to 10 years and fined. For each count of ill-treating Daniel, they could have each been jailed up to four years and fined up to $4,000.
TNP asked the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) why the couple were charged with voluntarily causing grievous hurt and ill-treating a child, instead of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, under which an offender can be jailed up to 20 years or life, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Its spokesman said that it decided to do so after carefully considering the facts and circumstances of the case.