SINGAPORE - A 25-year-old woman, who let her boyfriend abuse her then one-year-old son on two occasions, was jailed for 10 months on Friday (Nov 18).
The victim, who is now three and in foster care, had a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain after being pushed off a bed by Franklie Tan Guang Wei, 26, on March 25, 2015. The boy survived after an emergency surgery.
Tan has been given 6½ years' jail and six strokes of the cane for causing grievous hurt and three out of four charges of ill-treating a child. He is appealing against the sentence.
The child's mother, who cannot be named to protect the boy's identity, had admitted to two counts of ill-treating her son by permitting him to stay with Tan in his flat on March 8 and 25, 2015, even though she knew that he had previously ill-treated the boy and he was not allowed unsupervised contact with the child.
District Judge Adam Nakhoda said he agreed with the prosecution that the victim in this case was vulnerable and defenceless, and the primary sentencing consideration was general deterrence.
"A message has to be sent out that the courts will not condone violence or abuse against the most vulnerable in our society, and this would apply equally to those, who through their neglect, have made possible the abuse," he said.
Tan was an obvious danger to the victim and despite knowing this, the accused had failed to take the necessary steps to protect her son, he said.
The court heard that from March 16, 2015 onwards - four months after the accused had moved in to live with Tan and his mother after finding out that she was pregnant with his child - Tan would forcefully slap the victim's thighs at times when he cried at night.
Nine days later, he pounded the boy twice on his buttocks for crying when he did not see the accused who was preparing for work.
Although the accused managed to calm him down, she decided that the victim could not go to childcare as he had begun to vomit.
Instead of staying back to take care of him or take him to see a doctor, she decided to go to work and leave the child in the unsupervised care of Tan, who had ill-treated him on numerous occasions. She knew that her son was not supposed to be left in Tan's care unsupervised yet she threw caution to the wind and left for work.
On Nov 8, Tan slapped the victim on the face when he woke up crying, leaving finger marks and bruises near his left ear. The accused had left to make milk for the victim.
Judge Nakhoda found that there had clearly been a breach of the fundamental trust that exists between a parent and a child.
"In the context of this case, I also found that the accused repeatedly turning a blind eye to the fact that Tan had abused and was capable of abusing the victim, was a primary aggravating factor."
The judge said although there was no evidence that the accused assaulted the victim or was the immediate cause of any of his injuries, some weight had to be accorded to the severity and number of injuries suffered by the victim in determining the appropriate sentence.
"Whilst the injuries were not within the control of the accused, her wilful neglect, in the case of the second charge, led to the dire injuries suffered by the victim," he said.
Her lawyer A. Revi Shanker said his client has grown close to her children and wishes to spend time with them during their formative years.
The accused could have been fined $4,000 and/or jailed for up to four years on each charge.