Jail for man who told 11-year-old daughter to take sleeping pills after dispute with wife

SINGAPORE - A man who told his 11-year-old daughter to consume sleeping pills after a dispute with his estranged wife was sentenced on Wednesday (Jan 13) 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 wanted to kill herself and had taken the pills of her own accord.

She did as she was told before coming 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 around midnight when her father told her to retrieve a bottle of her grandmother's sleeping pills which contained amitriptyline - a poison. 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 the girl lost consciousness, the man took her in a taxi to his wife's flat and called for an ambulance when 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 the woman 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.

The man's offences finally came to light in August that year when his daughter revealed the truth to a social worker.

In mitigation, defence lawyer Christopher Bridges said that his client was still married to his wife.

Mr Bridges told the court that the man committed the offence on the spur of the moment.

"The accused wanted to show (his wife) that their marital disputes had caused the victim to suffer stress and that (his wife) was at fault for not properly taking care of her own child.

"The accused is also genuinely remorseful for his actions and realised that it was a stupid act," said the lawyer.

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.