Babysitter on trial for allegedly giving sleeping drug and other 'poisons' to 2 babies under her care

One of the babies was hospitalised for several days after her mother found her to be "very drowsy" and "cranky".
One of the babies was hospitalised for several days after her mother found her to be "very drowsy" and "cranky".PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A babysitter is on trial after she allegedly administered an assortment of medication or "poisons", including those used to treat insomnia and anxiety disorders, to two babies under her care.

One of the girls was just five months old, while the other was 11 months old. They are not related to each other; the older girl is the daughter of another woman, who is expected to testify at a later date.

A district court heard on Tuesday (Feb 18) that the younger girl was hospitalised for several days after her mother found her to be "very drowsy" and "cranky".

The 29-year-old mother, who cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her daughter's identity, testified that she alerted the police after receiving a hospital report listing 10 substances detected in her daughter's body.

They included sleeping drug temazepam, antihistamine chlorpheniramine and aprazolam, which is used to treat anxiety disorders.

The babysitter, freelance nurse Sa'adiah Jamari, 38, is accused of two counts of administering poisons to the girls with the intent to hurt them.

The Singaporean allegedly committed the offences in November and December 2016.

The younger girl's mother, who works as a customer service officer, told District Judge John Ng on Tuesday that in October 2016, she put up a notice on Facebook stating that she needed a babysitter for the baby and her 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, she 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 bottle aside when fed milk.

 
 
 

The mother also found that the baby's eyes appeared swollen and were "drooping down".

At first, the mother thought that her daughter was teething and would place a fever patch on the child's forehead as she thought the baby could have a slightly raised temperature.

The mother added that after about four occasions, she decided in late November 2016 to take the child to KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

She told the court that after an examination, a healthcare professional said the baby seemed "fine" and no poisonous substances were found in the baby.

Her voice cracked with emotion when she told Judge Ng: "I took it in good faith."

She continued sending her child to Sa'adiah as there was no evidence to indicate that the baby was being harmed.

Admitting that while she had misgivings, she said she had no one else to care for her baby.

When her child's condition did not improve, she took her to Parkway East Hospital the following month.

The mother said: "I recalled nurses in the ward holding her, trying to feed her milk with a spoon because she couldn't even suck the milk bottle. You had to force-feed her."

 

She added that her daughter was warded for about five days before she received the hospital report.

The mother alerted the police in late December 2016. On Tuesday, the mother told Judge Ng that her younger daughter is now fine.

The trial resumes on Wednesday.

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.