18 months' jail for mother who threw baby down rubbish chute
Woman, 27, claims she acted out of shock after sudden birth of son, who was rescued by two cleaners
After she gave birth to a baby in the toilet, she put her breathing child into a plastic bag, tied it and threw it down a rubbish chute.
Then she cleaned up the bloody mess, had a shower and went back to sleep.
Yesterday, the 27-year-old woman was jailed for 18 months for trying to kill her newborn.
The accused, who cannot be named due to a court order to protect the identity of her son, pleaded guilty to attempted culpable homicide by throwing him down the rubbish chute from the third storey of a Housing Board block of flats in Bedok North at 6.15am on Jan 7.
She claimed that until she gave birth, she was not aware that she was pregnant.
The court heard that the woman, who was working two part-time jobs as a waitress and a cleaner, was at home with her brother when she experienced discomfort in her abdomen and went to the toilet.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yan Jiakang told the court: "Although the accused had not had her usual menstrual cycle for many months and did wonder whether she might be pregnant on occasion, she had chosen not to dwell on it further."
After the baby was born in the toilet, the woman took him to the kitchen and placed him in a plastic bag, said DPP Yan.
"She realised that the victim was moving inside the plastic bag but wanted to get rid of him quickly."
She then tossed him down the rubbish chute.
Two Bangladeshi cleaners, Mr Patwari Shamin, 24, and Mr Kamal Mostafa, 40, found the infant more than two hours later after hearing crying noises while clearing the rubbish chute bin.
After they moved a sheet of newspaper at the top of the bin, they saw what appeared to be a baby in a white plastic bag with blood on it. They then called their supervisor, the cleaners told The New Paper at the time.
The boy, who weighed 2.5kg, was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, where he was found to have a fractured clavicle. He is currently in the care of foster parents.
When contacted by TNP yesterday evening, Mr Patwari said that he was surprised by the woman's sentence.
He said through an interpreter: "When I first saw the crying child, I thought that whoever who did this should be severely punished.
"If she had not wanted the baby, there are other ways... A baby should not be killed like that.
"I am happy for the baby now, and I hope to meet him one day when he grows up."
The court heard that she was shocked after the delivery and did not tell anyone about what she had done.
She told a friend she had a miscarriage and her friend advised her to go to the hospital.
When the police showed up at her door the next evening, she denied knowing anything.
On Feb 9, the police told her in a letter to report for an interview and a DNA test on Feb 14.
On Feb 13, the woman confessed to her friend what she had done and was advised to surrender to the police, which she did that day.
A psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health diagnosed the woman with post-partum depression but noted there was no direct contributory link to the offence.
She was also not suffering from any major mental illness at the time.
DPP Yan called for at least two years of jail tim e, citing reasons such as the woman being cognisant enough to dispose of the baby in a plastic bag and removing evidence by cleaning away the blood.
The woman's lawyer, Ms Arias Lim, called for probation instead, citing that her client had not known she was pregnant and that her family was also in the dark.
She argued her client was "in a state of shock" and "in that moment, she acted blindly".
"It was undoubtedly a mistake, but it does not preclude the fact that she is not a cold-hearted monster but a scared woman," Ms Lim added.
District Judge Salina Ishak said the charge was a serious offence, and rehabilitation did not displace deterrence in this case as the accused was 26 years old at the time.
A probation order was not appropriate, she said, noting the aggravating factors such as the victim's extreme vulnerability and the dangerous and unsanitary environment that he was thrown into.
It was fortunate the victim did not suffer serious or permanent injuries, the judge added.
One of the women who contacted TNP offering to adopt the baby, Ms Nuraini Ng, 34, said yesterday that she felt a mix of anger and sympathy for the woman.
She said: "No matter what, it was inhumane because the baby is innocent. I hope the mother can learn from this incident."