Jail for man who made daughter, 11, consume sleeping pills

A man who told his 11-year-old daughter to consume sleeping pills after a dispute with his estranged wife was sentenced yesterday to six months and two weeks' jail.

The child lost consciousness and was warded at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) for more than a month. The man later told the girl to lie to the police by claiming that she had wanted to kill herself and had taken the pills of her own accord.

She did as she was told, but came clean to a social worker four months later.

The 40-year-old Singaporean man, who cannot be named because of a gag order to protect his daughter's identity, pleaded guilty in court on Nov 11 last year to one count each of ill-treating a child and intentionally perverting the course of justice. He also admitted to an unrelated harassment charge.

The man lives with his daughter in a Toa Payoh flat while his wife lives in Woodlands. On April 7, 2018, the girl sent her mother a text message as she was feeling unwell. She asked her mother to pick her up from Toa Payoh so that they could visit a doctor together.

But the mother told the girl to take a taxi to Woodlands as she did not want to meet her husband.

The court heard that the girl decided to stay home with her younger brother and paternal grandmother. The man phoned his wife later that evening and they quarrelled.

The girl was in the living room at about midnight when her father told her to retrieve a bottle of her grandmother's sleeping pills, which contained amitriptyline and can have harmful effects. He told her to consume some of the medication.

Feeling overwhelmed, the girl swallowed about six pills. Her father later told her to consume more pills and she complied. When she lost consciousness after that, he took her in a taxi to his wife's flat, calling for an ambulance while they were on their way there.

He placed the girl outside his wife's home and knocked on the door at around 3.45am on April 8, 2018. When his wife opened the door, he told her that she would be "answerable if anything happened to the victim". An ambulance arrived soon after and rushed the girl to KKH.

The man later visited his daughter in hospital and told her to lie to the police. The girl lied to Sergeant Dickson Lek on April 18, 2018, claiming that she had wanted to take her own life.

In an unrelated incident which led to the harassment charge, the man was at Changi Beach Park on Jan 2, 2019 when a police officer asked for his NRIC. He then verbally abused the officer and his colleague with vulgar language.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline 'Jail for man who made daughter, 11, consume sleeping pills'. Print Edition | Subscribe