Singapore

Parents on trial for son's murder: Psychiatrist says accused's violence was 'calculated'

Psychiatrist says 27-year-old on trial for murdering five-year-old son could control his aggression and his violence served a purpose

A 27-year-old man, now on trial for abusing and murdering his five-year-old son, had used a heated spoon to burn the boy's palm to punish his "thieving hands" for opening tins of milk powder meant for his siblings, the High Court heard yesterday.

Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman also told forensic psychiatrist Cheow Enquan he often beat his wife over minor disagreements but tried to refrain from hitting her and redirected his anger towards his son instead.

Dr Cheow said Ridzuan's ability to control his aggression and the fact that his violence served a purpose showed he did not have a mental condition known as intermittent explosive disorder (IED).

The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) forensic psychiatrist was taking the stand on the fifth day of the trial of Ridzuan and his wife Azlin Arujunah, also 27, for the murder of their son by scalding him to death.

In the week leading to the boy's death on Oct 23, 2016, the couple had splashed cups of hot water on the boy, the court heard.

Each of the accused also faces charges relating to other abusive acts, including confining the boy in a cage meant for the pet cat, pinching him with a pair of pliers and hitting him with a broom.

Ridzuan's lawyers have submitted a report stating he was suffering from three psychiatric disorders including IED, a condition that involves sudden, aggressive outbursts that serve no purpose and are out of proportion to the situation.

KICKED THE CAT

Dr Cheow said that contrary to the typical person with IED, Ridzuan's aggressive behaviour showed a "calculated, escalating pattern of goal-directed violence".

He said there were reasons for Ridzuan's acts of violence - he hit his wife because she tried to stop him from going out and kicked the family's pet cat for urinating on the sofa.

Dr Cheow noted that Ridzuan started off hitting the victim with bare hands, and when the boy did not stop misbehaving, he moved on to harsher punishment. If Ridzuan had IED, he would have been indiscriminately violent towards his other children as well, said Dr Cheow.

He also disagreed with defence psychiatrist Ken Ung's opinion that Ridzuan had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and hypnotic use disorder.

But he conceded that Ridzuan may have antisocial personality disorder after the accused's lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam rattled off a list of Ridzuan's bad conduct.

This included quitting school at Primary 5, drinking, sniffing glue, being sent to the Singapore Boys' Home, joining gangs and beating others up - all before he turned 15.

However, Dr Cheow said antisocial personality disorder was not an abnormality of mind that impaired Ridzuan's mental responsibility for his actions and did not contribute to his offences.

COURT & CRIME