Woman with schizophrenia who killed 8-year-old daughter acquitted, to be confined indefinitely

The incident took place on Aug 10, 2021, at a residential unit in Geylang Lorong 31. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - A woman who stabbed her elder daughter 76 times after hearing voices telling her the eight-year-old was an evil spirit will be confined indefinitely.

The High Court on Tuesday found that the 36-year-old woman had killed the girl on Aug 10, 2021, at a residential unit in Geylang.

She has a younger daughter and the three of them shared a room in that unit, where they lived with the woman’s other family members.

However, the court acquitted the woman of a murder charge owing to her mental incapacity. 

The woman, who cannot be named because of a gag order, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was found to be of unsound mind at the time of the killing.

The court ordered the woman to be held in prison pending further orders from the Law Minister.

Under the Criminal Procedure Code, in cases where the accused is acquitted on the basis of mental incapacity, the court must order the person to be kept in safe custody and for the case to be reported to the minister.

The law states that the minister may order that person to be confined in a psychiatric institution, prison or other suitable place of safe custody at the President’s pleasure.

It also provides for the woman to be subject to regular reviews on her mental state before any possible discharge.

Reports from the Institute of Mental Health said the woman’s schizophrenia had gone untreated for several years and that the killing was her first episode of psychosis.

The reports said the psychosis caused her thinking and judgment to be so distorted and out of touch with reality that she was unable to differentiate between right and wrong at the time of the killing.

The court heard that the woman had the two girls with her boyfriend, who returned to China in 2014.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia said that from 2018 to August 2020, her family members noticed that she behaved strangely.

The woman believed her phone and laptop were being hacked and that people were following her and trying to harm her.

She threw away food prepared by her family members and monitored their cooking. She stopped sleeping with the air-conditioner turned on, as she would otherwise sleep very deeply and fail to notice attempts to hurt her.

The woman started hearing voices in March 2021.

The voices became louder and more frequent over time, telling her that her food and water were poisoned.

She was also told by the voices to harm herself and her family, and to kill her elder daughter.

In the two days prior to the killing, she was caught on surveillance footage behaving erratically at various MRT stations.

On Aug 8, she took the train from Aljunied station to Somerset, left the station, then returned after 12 minutes.

She tapped her ez-link card to enter the station, then tapped out, then tapped her card to enter the station again.

She took the train to Tanjong Pagar station, which she exited and entered, before taking the train back to Aljunied.

On Aug 9, she left home with the two girls but took only the younger one with her into Aljunied MRT station. 

Left behind, the older girl made her way to her grandparents’ coffee shop nearby.

On the morning of Aug 10, the woman was in her room with the girls when her niece heard her rambling incoherently and referring to Chinese historical figures.

The niece also heard cries from the two girls.

When the woman’s brother opened the door, he found the elder girl motionless on the floor while the woman was naked and holding a pair of scissors.

He saw a bloodstained knife on the cabinet and threw it towards the kitchen. He then grabbed the younger girl and rushed into his room, and his wife called the police.

After the police arrived, the woman dropped the scissors and walked towards the two officers while mumbling incoherently. Her brother covered her with a blanket and a policewoman later put some clothes on her before she was arrested.

The victim was taken to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital but died from her injuries. An autopsy found 76 stab wounds on her body. She died from stab wounds to the neck and torso.

The woman’s lawyer, Ms Choo Yean Lin, told the court she hopes her client will recover speedily so that she can be reunited with her parents and younger daughter.

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