4-year-old girl allegedly killed by stepdad had denied he punched her, says mum

Syabilla Syamien Riyadi was testifying as a prosecution witness on the second day of the murder trial of her husband, Muhammad Salihin Ismail. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The mother of a four-year-old girl who was allegedly killed by her stepfather told the High Court on Wednesday (Feb 3) that her daughter had told her, before she lost consciousness, that the man did not punch her.

Syabilla Syamien Riyadi, 24, said Nursabrina Agustiani Abdullah told her that her twin stepbrothers, who were close to two years old at the time, had sat on her stomach.

Syabilla, who is remanded in prison after she was arrested last year for illegal moneylending and drug offences, was testifying as a prosecution witness on the second day of the murder trial of her husband, Muhammad Salihin Ismail.

Salihin, 28, is accused of causing fatal abdominal injuries to his stepdaughter, and faces the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted of murder.

On the morning of Sept 1, 2018, after Syabilla, a waitress, had left for work, Salihin hit the girl and kicked her in the stomach, as he was angry she had urinated on the floor.

That evening, after Syabilla returned home, Sabrina, as she was known to her family, complained of stomach pain and vomited through the night.

The next morning, she continued to vomit and became unconscious. Salihin then told Syabilla to call an ambulance.

Sabrina was pronounced dead in hospital at 10.12am. An autopsy found that she had died from extensive internal bleeding in the abdomen caused by blunt force injuries.

On Wednesday, Salihin's lawyer, in cross-examining Syabilla, suggested two alternative causes of the fatal injuries.

Ms Syazana Yahya sought to establish that the twin boys were playful and could get "quite rough" when they played with Sabrina.

The lawyer also sought to establish that Salihin had performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Sabrina while waiting for the ambulance to arrive and could have pressed on her stomach instead of her chest.

Syabilla told the court that late at night after Sabrina complained of pain, the girl told her that the twins had sat on her stomach and then showed a fist.

Syabilla said she then asked Sabrina if Salihin had punched her but the girl said no.

She said the children were "rough" when playing with each other and recalled an incident in which Sabrina suffered a bruise after one of the twins slammed the door on her.

Syabilla said there were at least two occasions where the twins, who each weighed 15kg at the time, had sat on Sabrina.

She also told the court that after Sabrina became unconscious on the morning of Sept 2, Salihin kept shaking the girl and patting her face to rouse her.

She said Salihin knelt down on the girl's left side to perform CPR while she stood on the other side carrying the younger twin.

However, she could not be sure if Salihin had pressed Sabrina's chest or stomach.

Syabilla, a permanent resident from Indonesia, said she did not probe Salihin further on what happened.

When asked why, she replied in English: "Because I was afraid of him. He will get defensive if I ask more questions."

In her statement to the court, Syabilla said there were past occasions where she saw reddish marks and bruises on Sabrina and asked Salihin if he had hit the girl, but he got angry and said that she was accusing him of abusing the children.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.