A babysitter was found guilty yesterday of poisoning two babies under her care with an assortment of medicines, including some used to treat insomnia and anxiety disorders.
After a trial, District Judge John Ng convicted Sa'adiah Jamari, 39, of two counts of administering poisons to the little girls with the intent to hurt them in separate incidents in November and December 2016.
One of the girls was just five months old at the time, while the other was 11 months old. They are not related to each other. The girls and their mothers cannot be named, owing to a gag order to protect the children's identities.
During the trial, the younger girl's mother, 29, testified that she put up a notice on Facebook in October 2016 stating that she needed a babysitter for her baby and her older daughter, who was then five years old.
The court heard that Sa'adiah started taking care of the girls in her Hougang flat in early November that year. But after the first few visits, the mother noticed that her younger daughter appeared "cranky" and would "throw" her milk bottle aside when she was being fed.
The mother told the judge during the trial earlier this year that she took her baby to Parkway East Hospital the following month.
The court heard that the daughter was warded for about five days and the mother received a hospital report listing multiple substances detected in the baby's body.
They included the sleeping drug temazepam, the antihistamine chlorpheniramine, and alprazolam, which is used to treat anxiety disorders. The mother alerted the police in late December 2016.
The 22-year-old mother of the older baby had also testified in court earlier. During the trial, she told the court that she had posted on a Facebook group in December 2016 that she needed somebody to look after her baby on Christmas evening.
Sa'adiah responded to the message, and the mother took her child to the babysitter's flat.
At about 6am the next day, the mother's boyfriend picked up the baby, and the woman noticed her infant seemed "tired". The baby was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital that day and admitted.
Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Yan Jiakang urged the judge to sentence Sa'adiah to seven years' jail, stressing that the case involved vulnerable and defenceless victims.
In mitigation, defence lawyer Chua Eng Hui said that Sa'adiah is divorced and a single mother of two. The court heard that she also had a history of major depression.
Sa'adiah is now out on $10,000 bail and will be sentenced on Nov 24.