SINGAPORE - Starting from when he was two years old, a young boy suffered repeated physical abuse at the hands of his biological mother, who roughed him up when she felt frustrated that his learning ability did not meet her expectations.
In August 2014, the abuse turned fatal when four-year-old Mohammad Airyl Amirul Haziq Mohamed Ariff died from head injuries after he was assaulted for being unable to recite the numbers 11 to 18 in Malay.
On Monday (March 28), Noraidah Mohd Yussof, 34, pleaded guilty to two counts each of causing grievous hurt and ill-treating a child. Two other counts of ill-treatment will be taken into consideration during sentencing.
The bespectacled divorcee with shoulder-length hair admitted to six instances of physical abuse - one in 2012 and five between June and August 2014 - at her Eunos flat.
A further hearing will be held before she is sentenced, to resolve the differing opinions between the psychiatrists for the prosecution and the defence.
The defence psychiatrist concluded that she has Asperger's syndrome, based largely on interviews with her family members.
Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang told the court that her family's accounts to the defence psychiatrist differed from the ones they had earlier given to a government psychiatrist.
The court heard that in March 2012, when the boy was two, Noraidah became irritated when he could not follow her instructions when she tried to teach him the alphabet. She pushed him and stepped on his ribs after he fell to the floor.
She took him to hospital but lied that the boy fell. The Ministry of Family and Social Development decided to place the boy in the care of her brother and sister-in-law.
In August 2014, after she fetched the boy from school, she asked him to recite the numbers 11 to 18 in English, then Malay. But he could not do so in Malay and she shouted at him in disappointment.
After the boy woke up from a nap, she asked him to recite the numbers again - but he still could not do it. Agitated, she pushed him, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head.
As the boy continued reciting the numbers wrongly, she continued to assault him.
She held him by the neck until he was lifted off the ground against the wall. The boy started gasping for air and later stopped moving.
When a neighbour came to the flat after she asked for help, Noraidah lied that the boy hit his head after a fall in the toilet. They took the boy to a nearby clinic, where the doctor called for an ambulance.
The boy underwent emergency surgery but remained in critical condition and died four days later.
Noraidah was originally charged with causing grievous hurt. When the boy died, the charge was upgraded to murder, but it has since been restored to the original charge.