Focus on mental state of mum who abused kid

The mental state of a divorced mother, who abused her four-year-old son so badly that he died, is the focus of a three-day High Court hearing.

The prosecution and defence do not see eye to eye as to whether Noraidah Mohd Yussof, 34, has Asperger's syndrome - an autism- like disorder that affects how a person interacts with others.

It could have a bearing on the sentence meted out to Noraidah, who pleaded guilty in March to inflicting various abuses on her son, Mohammad Airyl Amirul Haziq Mohamed Ariff.

In March 2012, when he was two, she pushed him and stepped on his ribs after she became irritated at him while she was trying to teach him the alphabet.

In August 2014, she hurt him when he was unable to recite the numbers 11 to 18 in Malay. He died from head injuries four days later.

 

Defence psychiatrist Tommy Tan believes Noraidah has Asperger's syndrome, making her unable to feel empathy for others. She was a stubborn person and refused to work, aside from pursuing a modelling career. She was also very possessive of her former husband.

But two psychiatrists from the Institute of Mental Health disagree. One of them, Dr Sajith Sreedharan Geetha, said Noraidah won Miss Photogenic at a primary school contest, had a group of secondary school friends, pursued a modelling career and had serious romantic relationships. This was incompatible with someone having difficulties with social interaction or communication, she added.

Noraidah faces up to 10 years' jail and a fine for causing grievous hurt and a fine of up to $4,000 and jail of up to four years for ill-treatment of a child.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'Focus on mental state of mum who abused kid'. Print Edition | Subscribe