Man accused of killing 4-year-old stepdaughter after she urinated outside toilet bowl

Muhammad Salihin Ismail faces the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted of murder.
Muhammad Salihin Ismail faces the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted of murder. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - A 28-year-old man who assaulted his four-year-old stepdaughter after he became angry at her for urinating outside the toilet bowl went on trial for murder on Tuesday (Feb 2).

Muhammad Salihin Ismail is accused of causing the girl, Nursabrina Agustiani Abdullah, to suffer fatal injuries sometime between 9am on Sept 1, 2018 and 9.40am on Sept 2, 2018 at the family’s rental flat in Bukit Batok.

He faces the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted of murder.

Prosecutors told the High Court that Salihin had confessed to assaulting her in his police statements and psychiatric interviews. 

He admitted to kicking the girl’s abdomen while she was on the floor, saying he targeted her stomach because he wanted to “teach her a lesson” for having “so much problem peeing or passing motion”. 

Citing case law, the prosecution said that it only needs to prove that Salihin intended to inflict the fatal injuries and it was not necessary to prove an intention to cause death.

Salihin also faces two other charges for acts of violence against the girl.

He is accused of causing hurt to the girl between July and October 2017 at his parents’ flat by scalding her with hot water flowing from a shower head, which he had allegedly placed on her back for five to six seconds.

The court heard that he was trying to save on electricity costs and was angry at her for not wanting to shower with cold water.

Salihin is also accused of ill-treating the girl sometime between January and April 2018 by slamming her head against the floor, allegedly because he was upset that she had hid under the bed when he was trying to feed her.

These two charges have been stood down for now, after defence counsel Syazana Yahya argued that Salihin would be prejudiced by having to defend himself against the non-capital charges as well as the capital murder charge.

The court heard that Salihin married the girl’s mother, Syabilla Syamien Riyadi, 24, in 2016 when Sabrina was two years old.

Salihin and Syabilla, a Singapore permanent resident from Indonesia, also have a pair of twin boys together.

Syabilla is currently in prison and has been lined up as a prosecution witness.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Senthilkumaran Sabapathy told the court that Salihin was released from the Singapore Armed Forces detention barracks in February 2017, but no further details were revealed.

He said that in September 2018, the couple was trying to toilet-train Sabrina as she was starting pre-school soon.

On the morning of Sept 1, 2018, after Syabilla had left for work, Salihin became angry when he saw a puddle of urine on the floor just outside the toilet.

He placed the girl on the toilet bowl and hit her in the stomach a few times with his fist.

That afternoon, the girl went to the toilet on her own as he had instructed. But when Salihin realised she had urinated on the floor again, he pushed her to the floor.

While she was lying on her side, Salihin kicked her stomach at least twice. As she cried, he picked her up and hit her again in the stomach.

That evening, after Syabilla returned home with dinner, the girl complained of stomach pain after eating some rice. She then started vomiting, which went on overnight.

The next morning, she became unconscious after Salihin used his finger to ease her vomit. He then carried her out of the toilet and told Syabilla to call for an ambulance.

Paramedics who arrived at about 9.30am found that she was not breathing and had no pulse rate. Resuscitation efforts failed and the girl was pronounced dead at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital at 10.12am.

Hospital officials reported the death to the police and Salihin was arrested the next day. An autopsy found that she died from internal bleeding due to blunt force trauma of the abdomen.

The trial continues on Wednesday.