Couple on trial for murder after son scalded, beaten, kept in cage
Couple on trial for murder of son, who was admitted to hospital with burn injuries on 75% of his body and died a day later
The five-year-old boy was repeatedly pinched with pliers on his buttocks and thighs, and hit on the head, hands and legs with objects such as a broom.
He also had hot water splashed on his face and body, so much so that his skin peeled and pus oozed from his wounds.
He was also confined to a cage meant for the family cat.
The horrific acts of physical and psychological abuse were meted out allegedly by the boy's biological parents. They were so severe that he eventually collapsed from his injuries.
Even then, his parents, Azlin Arujunah and Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman, both 27, allegedly delayed taking him to hospital, fearing they would get into trouble for child abuse.
They eventually did so, but the boy did not survive, dying in hospital on Oct 23, 2016, a day after he was admitted.
The married couple are now on trial for the murder of their son.
In their opening statement yesterday in the High Court, on the first day of the trial, Deputy Public Prosecutors Tan Wen Hsien, Daphne Lim and Li Yihong said the couple had blatantly disregarded the boy's welfare and his life.
"This is a murder as horrific as it is tragic," said the prosecution team. "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."
Ridzuan faces nine charges, including murder with common intention, ill-treatment of child and voluntarily causing hurt by means of heated substance.
Azlin faces six similar charges, including abetment of voluntarily causing hurt by means of a heated substance.
Both were unemployed and lived in a one-room rental flat with the victim and their other children.
Court documents revealed that the victim was fostered out when he was about one month old until he was returned to his parents' household in May 2015 when he was four.
The prosecutors said the couple started to physically and psychologically torment the victim from around July 2016. The abuse allegedly lasted about four months.
They said, in July 2016, Ridzuan used pliers to pinch the boy on his buttocks and the back of his thighs multiple times.
In August, when Azlin found biscuits on the kitchen floor, she allegedly hit the child with a broom on his legs, body and back, causing him to develop a limp and a misaligned kneecap.
Days before his death, Azlin allegedly pushed him hard, causing his head to hit the wall and bleed. Ridzuan is accused of punching his face, causing his nose to bleed.
The victim, who was 1.05m tall, was confined to a cat cage measuring 91cm long, 58cm wide and 70cm tall.
He was also scalded with hot water, resulting in white patches and peeling skin over his face, stomach and body.
On Oct 22, 2016, Azlin wanted to bathe the boy but he did not want to remove his shorts. Ridzuan allegedly then used a broom to hit him on his head, hands and legs.
When the boy still refused to obey, Ridzuan allegedly took hot water from a dispenser and threw it on the victim's legs and body, causing the boy to shout "don't want, don't want".
The prosecution team said the boy crouched over as Ridzuan poured hot water over his back and calf area, and the child fell forward onto the bathroom floor and stopped moving. A forensic analysis by the Health Sciences Authority showed the water would have had an average temperature of 92 deg C.
After a six-hour delay, the couple eventually took the boy to a hospital, which alerted the police.
The victim was in critical condition when he arrived at KK Women's and Children's Hospital and died the next morning.
An autopsy report certified his cause of death as severe scald injuries, with a blunt force trauma to the head as a contributory cause.
The boy also had burn injuries covering 75 per cent of his total body surface area.
Lacerations were found on his head and face, and there were large areas of haemorrhage over his scalp, fractures of his nasal bone, and bruising over his limbs and back.
The trial continues.