SINGAPORE - A babysitter was found guilty on Thursday (Oct 15) of poisoning two babies under her care with an assortment of medicines, including some used to treat insomnia and anxiety disorders.
After a trial, District Judge John Ng convicted Sa'adiah Jamari, 39, of two counts of administering poisons to the little girls with the intent to hurt them on separate incidents in November and December 2016.
One of the girls was just five months old at the time, while the other was 11 months old. They are not related to each other. The girls and their mothers cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the children's identities.
During the trial, the younger girl's mother, 29, testified that she put up a notice on Facebook in October 2016, which stated that she needed a babysitter for her baby and older daughter, who was then five years old.
Court documents did not state if any poisons had been found in the older daughter's body.
After Sa'adiah replied, the mother visited her Hougang flat and found that it was "suitable" for her daughters.
The court heard that Sa'adiah started taking care of the girls in early November that year.
But after the first few visits, the mother noticed that her younger daughter appeared "cranky" and would "throw" her milk bottle aside when she was being fed.
The mother had told Judge Ng that after the fourth time or so this happened, she decided to take the child to KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) in late November 2016.
She added that a healthcare professional said the baby seemed "fine" after examining her and that no poisonous substances were found in the baby.
When her child's condition did not improve, she took her to Parkway East Hospital the following month.
The court heard that the daughter was warded for about five days and the mother received a hospital report listing multiple substances detected in the baby's body.
They included sleeping drug temazepam, antihistamine chlorpheniramine and alprazolam, which is used to treat anxiety disorders.
The mother alerted the police in late December 2016. She had testified that her younger daughter is now fine.
The 22-year-old mother of the older baby had also testified in court earlier. During the trial, she told the court that she had posted on a Facebook group in December 2016 that she needed somebody to look after her baby on Christmas evening.
Sa'adiah responded to the message and the mother sent her child to the older woman's flat.
At around 6am the next day, her boyfriend picked up the baby and the woman noticed that her infant seemed "tired".
She added: " "Even after she woke up, she was so drowsy. She could not walk. After one hour... still the same thing... Her head kept moving round and round."
The baby was taken to KKH that day and admitted. A urine sample taken from the child was later found to contain substances that included alprazolam. She was discharged on Jan 1, 2017.
During the trial, Sa'adiah denied administering medication to the two babies.
The court, however, heard that all the drugs found in the babies had also been detected in Sa'adiah's own system in 2016.
On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Yan Jiakang urged Judge Ng to sentence her to seven years’ jail, stressing that the case involved “vulnerable and defenceless” victims.
In mitigation, defence lawyer Chua Eng Hui said that Sa’adiah is divorced and a single mother of two. The court heard that she also had a history of “major depression”.
Sa’adiah is now out on $10,000 bail and will be sentenced on Nov 24.
For each charge of causing hurt with poisons, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned. Sa'adiah cannot be caned as she is a woman.