Mohamad Nasser Abdul Ghani, in red, helping Masita Hussin, in blue hijab, at the State Courts on Tuesday, 5 July. (Photo: Safhras Khan/Yahoo Singapore)
For Mohamad Nasser Abdul Ghani, his 42nd birthday on 5 July, on the eve of Hari Raya Eid Fitr, is tinged with sadness.
On the same day when his ex-wife Zaidah, 41, and her boyfriend, Zaini Jamari, 46, were sentenced to jail for inflicting grievous hurt that caused the death of his two-year-old son, Mohamad Daniel, Nasser was left to reflect on a life cruelly cut short.
Daniel died on 23 November 2015 after he was subjected to repeated abuse at the hands of Zaidah and Zaini.
Appearing before Principle District Judge Bala Reddy on Tuesday morning, the couple kept their heads down as their sentences were read out to them.
Zaini had pleaded guilty to one count for causing grievous hurt causing death, and three counts of child abuse. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 12 strokes of the cane.
Zaidah, who went by a single name, had also pleaded guilty to similar charges and was given a jail term of 11 years.
Couple slapped, pinched and stomped Daniel
During the case proceedings, it was not mentioned when the abuse on the boy began. The abuse that led to his death happened on 22 November 2015, when Zaidah and Zaini first slapped him for refusing to eat breakfast.
Zaidah proceeded to hit the toddler on his back, which caused him to fall before stomping on his chest. Daniel then took three spoonfuls of food and refused to eat. He was then ordered by his mother to stand in a corner.
Around 7pm that day, the toddler, tired from standing all day, leaned against a bed frame. The couple noticed this and began slapping Daniel, who was already lying on the floor with his eyes closed.
Zaini took the boy to the kitchen and forced two spoonfuls of dried chili down the boy’s throat before forcing him to continue standing in the living room.
At 8.45pm, Daniel became weak and was unable to continue standing. Zaidah then pinched him on his body and cheeks, and slapped him several times.
Zaini then slapped the boy and kicked him in the stomach, which caused the boy to fall to the floor. He also forced the toddler to eat chili again.
The next morning, the couple realised that the boy was not responsive and their two housemates called for an ambulance.
Daniel was pronounced dead at 9.11am.
Couple showed no remorse: Judge
In passing a deterrent sentence, DJ Bala Reddy rebuked the couple, saying that they had in a “ruthless and unrelenting manner” inflicted severe torture on a child who was unable to defend himself.
“In fact, when the injuries were explained to you and the most unbearable injuries captured in the photographs were shown to you in the dock, both of you were nonchalant and showed no remorse or sadness at the most pitiful sight of the deceased child.
“He had been subjected to abuse and pain at the hands of the very persons who should have been his source of support, comfort and happiness,” he said.
Nasser, in red, looking on as Masita showed him a pair of shoes that belonged to Daniel. (Photo: Safhras Khan/Yahoo Singapore)
Boy’s father and nanny unhappy with verdict
After the sentencing, Daniel’s father told reporters outside the courtroom that he was unhappy with the sentence. Nasser said, “They will go to jail for 10 and 11 years and then they will come out. But my son? Can he get up? My son can never get up again!”
Nasser’s sentiment was echoed by Daniel’s nanny, Masita Hussin, who said that she had been looking after the boy since he was a baby.
Masita, 51, said that she had been unable to sleep properly since she learnt about Daniel’s death. She met Nasser for the first time on Tuesday.
Holding on to a pair of Daniel’s shoes, she said tearfully, “I’ve looked after him for two years and seven months, I miss him and I am sad because I am unable to hold him in my arms again.”