SINGAPORE - The mother of a two-year-old boy who died after five weeks of abuse last year was sentenced to 11 years' jail on Tuesday (July 5).
Her boyfriend, who also admitted to hurting toddler Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser, was sentenced to 10 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
Both sentences will take effect from the date of their remand on Nov 26 last year.
Zaidah, 41, and her boyfriend of four years, Zaini Jamari, 46, both cleaners, were impassive when their sentences were read.
Principal District Judge Bala Reddy said in sentencing that the couple had inflicted harm on a defenceless boy “in a ruthless and unrelenting manner”. Photos of his injuries showed how horrific and inhumane they had been, he added, but they were "nonchalant" and showed no remorse.
The idea of a mother doing such abuse to her child that she carried for nine months, said the judge, is “simply incomprehensible”.
The prosecution had asked for at least nine years' jail for each, with nine to 12 strokes of the cane for Zaini, and an additional nine to 12 months' jail in lieu of caning for Zaidah.
Present in court on Tuesday were Madam Masita Hussin, 51, who took care of Daniel for most of his life, and her family.
Daniel's biological father, Mr Mohamad Nasser Abdul Gani, 42, and uncle, Mr Abdu Manaf Al Ansari, 48, were also in court to hear the verdict.
"It's not enough," said Mr Nasser after the sentencing. "My son remains dead."
He broke down outside the courtroom.
"I'm really disappointed," said Mr Manaf. "I'm getting a lawyer to write to the Attorney-General's Chambers, to review their sentences."
It is the first time Madam Masita met Mr Nasser. The pair greeted each other outside the courtroom before the sentencing.
"I've finally met him after all this time," she said, adding that she felt "relieved".
Madam Masita said she was also not happy with the outcome. "I cannot do anything. The judge has given his decision," she said, adding "it is too short" and she had hoped for a longer sentence.
She, too, cried outside the courtroom.
On June 23, Zaidah and Zaini were each convicted of one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Daniel, and three counts of ill-treating Daniel.
Zaidah, who has five other children, admitted to 26 other charges of abusing the boy and Zaini, 18 other counts.
The couple had kicked and slapped Daniel almost every day from Oct 18 to Nov 22 last year. The toddler would be made to stand in the kitchen or living room in their Telok Blangah Crescent one-room flat with his hands on his head, clad in only his diapers.
They also forced him to eat spoonfuls of dried chilli and stamped on his chest.
An autopsy found 41 external injuries on Daniel, in a list that took up more than three pages of court documents.
These included a cluster of multiple red, green and brown bruises on his left and right upper abdomen, a bruise on his left lower eyelid, red bruises on multiple parts of his body and abrasion on his nose.
Daniel died of a head injury on Nov 23.
Last October, the couple moved into a one-room HDB flat in Telok Blangah Crescent with Daniel and their one-year-old daughter.
The unit owner Ms Puspawati Abdul Razat - a 51-year-old friend of Zaidah - and her 15-year-old niece lived with them.
Ms Puspawati, who witnessed the abuse, told The Straits Times she had asked the couple to stop on multiple occasions but was hampered by her immobility - she is wheelchair-bound.
With Zaidah always at home, she added, she could not call for help without being found out.
Mr Nasser was heartbroken to learn of his child's death, having been behind bars for drug-related charges when Daniel was born. After his release, he spent a year searching in vain for his son.
He looked forward to caring the boy, he said, but his friends did not know of the child's whereabouts and Zaidah was no longer living at her former address.
The first time Mr Nasser took his son into his arms, the boy was dead.
Daniel was buried by his paternal relatives on November 30 last year.