Jail, caning for drug offender who abused infant daughter, fracturing her skull

SINGAPORE - A drug offender who repeatedly abused his baby daughter, causing 30 injuries, including a fractured skull, was sentenced on Thursday (Nov 2) to four years' jail and eight strokes of the cane.

He pleaded guilty on Sept 29 to one count each of ill-treating and causing grievous hurt to the girl, who was then 10 months old. Two other counts of ill-treating the child were considered.

The 23-year-old jobless man, who cannot be named due to a gag order, committed the offences on Aug 9 and 10 last year.

On Thursday, District Judge Lim Keng Yeow said: "A stern warning must be issued and society must have low tolerance to such offences. Perpetrators should not expect to receive leniency."

The man is currently behind bars in a drug rehabilitation centre after he was sent there in September last year for substance abuse.

He has had a history of drug abuse since 2007 and had relapsed to his old habit when he ill-treated the little girl, said the prosecution.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sheryl Yeo said: "The accused had taken his anger out on his daughter when he was unable to obtain money to purchase drugs."

On Aug 9 last year, he flung a plastic bottle at his daughter's face in the morning when she would not stop crying.

He left the flat and returned home that evening in a bad mood as he had no money to buy drugs. The girl started crying, and when he failed to pacify her, he shoved her head against a wall.

The next day, the man bit her in places such as her left forearm and ears. DPP Yeo said he had a habit of biting the girl.

She added: "The victim also could not rely on her mother for help as her mother lived in fear of the accused. The abuses against the victim were only reported to the authorities when some superficial injuries were discovered by the victim's relative."

The baby's grandfather alerted the police on Aug 13 last year.

Police took the baby to the National University Hospital where she was found to be suffering from injuries including a fractured skull and multiple cuts to her face, torso and limbs.

She was hospitalised until Aug 15 last year.

DPP Yeo had urged the court to sentence the man, who was unrepresented, to at least four years' jail and six strokes of the cane.

Stressing that incidents involving child abuse are very difficult to detect, she said that according to statistics from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the number of such cases had spiked from 551 in 2015 to 873 last year.

She added: "MSF explained that the higher number of cases investigated since 2015 is because of MSF's efforts in uncovering more cases."

For causing grievous hurt to the baby, the man could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined or caned.