Man jailed for attacking girlfriend and failing to report her death

For nearly two hours, an unemployed man assaulted his girlfriend, using his fists, a belt and clothes hangers, and when he realised she was dead, he fled the country.

It was only a week later that 20-year-old Nur Syirin Hamzah's decomposed body was found at the Banda Street rented flat in Chinatown.

Soon after assault her on Sept 15 last year, her boyfriend Zulkifri Said, 28, and his 63-year-old mother left for Johor Baru by bus.

They stayed in a hostel in Larkin until they ran out of money and returned to Singapore on Sept 23, whereupon they were arrested.

On Wednesday (Aug 23), Zulkifri was sentenced to two years and three months in jail after admitting to five of 11 charges - two counts of causing hurt to his girlfriend, failing to report her death, as well as causing hurt to and threatening a former girlfriend, Ms Shahidah Zawani Phul Bahar Hussain, 26.

Seeking a total sentence of at least 21 months, the prosecution said Zulkifri's utter disregard for Ms Syirin's personal safety and health was "chilling".

Describing his culpability as high, Deputy Public Prosecutor Christina Koh said that for nearly two hours, Zulkifri hit vulnerable parts of Ms Syirin's body, to "teach" her a lesson for defying his order to leave the flat.

While Ms Syirin's cause of death could not be ascertained due to the advanced stage of decomposition of her body, her last moments on earth must have been terrifying and painful, said DPP Koh. "We don't know if the deceased was actually beaten to death or if the beating led to a stroke or epileptic episode.''

The court heard that Ms Syirin and Zulkifri had become acquainted in August while her boyfriend Noorman Daud was in jail.

She broke up with him and moved in to live with Zulkifri, who started to abuse her soon after.

Some time in early September, he found out that Mr Noorman would be released on Sept 13 and sent him a message, through Ms Syirin's Facebook account, asking for a chance to speak to him.

On Sept 15, he punched her in the chest when she refused to let him see her Facebook account to check if Mr Noorman had left a reply.

That evening, Zulkifri's aunt called to say Mr Noorman wanted to talk to Ms Syirin. Zulkifri said no.

To avoid any trouble with Mr Noorman, Zulkifri told Ms Syirin to leave the flat, but she refused.

Angry, he punched her repeatedly with great force, ignoring even his mother's plea for him to stop.

After yet another phone call from his aunt at around 10pm, Zulkifri tried to evict Ms Syirin, who refused and hugged him. He hit her back multiple times.

He then beat her with a belt, followed by some clothes hangers. Seated throughout, she did not block his attacks or retaliate. It went on until 11.05pm.

Soon aftewards, she started shivering uncontrollably.

Zulkifri carried her to the bed, but she could not answer his queries.

Crying out "panas, panas" (Malay for "hot, hot"), her body began to stiffen.

When Zulkifri checked on her minutes later, she was foaming at the mouth and grinding her teeth. Her breathing was also unstable. She stopped breathing at 11.45pm.

Zulkifri placed a prayer book on her chest to perform a ritual, covered her body with a white blanket and her face with a white towel, and skipped town with his mother.

Zulkifri, who had convictions for causing hurt by dangerous means, theft and housebreaking, could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000 for causing hurt.

For failing to report a death, the maximum penalty under the Coroners Act is a $1,500 fine and one month in jail.

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