Singapore woman jailed four years for pouring boiling water on boyfriend’s groin over cheating suspicions

Zareena Begum PAM Basheer Ahamed’s boyfriend suffered second- and third-degree burns over 12 per cent of his body. He testified that it was 'the worst pain' he ever felt in his life. — TODAY pic
Zareena Begum PAM Basheer Ahamed’s boyfriend suffered second- and third-degree burns over 12 per cent of his body. He testified that it was 'the worst pain' he ever felt in his life. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Nov 26 — After breaking up and getting back together with her boyfriend of 11 years a few times, Zareena Begum PAM Basheer Ahamed decided she had had enough when she spotted him with another woman.

She invited him over to her flat and, while he was sleeping, emptied a mug of boiling water on his groin. The sneak attack left him with second- and third-degree burns over 12 per cent of his body.

Today, the 50-year-old woman was sentenced to four years’ jail in a district court.

She had claimed trial to a single charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to him, saying that it was an accident, but District Judge Brenda Tan rejected this. 

Her lawyer SS Dhillon told the court that she will be filing an appeal against the conviction and sentence. She remains out on bail in the meantime, with the quantum increased by S$10,000 (RM30,429) to S$30,000.

Judge: No additional jail time in lieu of caning

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jun Chong had sought five years’ jail with an additional three months in lieu of caning, noting that the victim suffered major burn injuries over a large surface area.

She could have been jailed up to 15 years or for life and fined. While the offence carries the possibility of caning, women cannot receive the punishment under law.

Dhillon, who asked for a two-year jail term, objected to this as she was already exempted from caning.

District Judge Tan found that more jail time in place of caning would not be necessary. The sentence “would be commensurate with the culpability and criminality of the accused’s actions and serve as sufficient punishment,” she added.

During sentencing submissions, DPP Ng noted that the victim, who testified in court during the trial, said the burns made him “want to die.” He will have permanent scars over his groin area.

He was hospitalised for 26 days and underwent three surgical procedures that included skin grafts. He was put on 39 days of medical leave, which would likely have been longer if he continued with follow-up sessions at the hospital, the prosecutor said.

Ng cited aggravating factors such as Zareena’s act being “clearly deliberate,” her boyfriend being vulnerable as he was sound asleep at the time, and some degree of abuse of trust.

The case

The couple began dating in 2006. He was married at the time and eventually got divorced. Over the years, they quarrelled and broke up a few times, accusing each other of cheating. 

In 2015, Zareena again believed her boyfriend was unfaithful. Almost two years later, in January 2017, she saw him at the HarbourFront Centre ferry terminal with the woman she suspected to be having an affair with him.

He testified, however, that he still loved Zareena deeply. They were still dating at this point.Several months later on July 4, Zareena invited him to her flat. She made him supper and they watched television before he fell asleep on the sofa.

Zareena then snapped when she took his mobile phone from his bag and saw WhatsApp messages the other woman had sent him.

She boiled water in the kitchen before pouring the hot liquid on his groin over his pants.

A medical expert gave evidence that there was likely at least 200ml to 300ml of water at about 90°C to 100°C.

In her defence, Zareena claimed during the trial that she had woken him up to show him the messages before they argued for about half an hour.

She said that he followed her into the kitchen where she had boiled the water, but he pulled her arm while she was turning and holding the mug, causing the water to spill onto his groin.

However, he testified that he had been sleeping and suddenly woke up to “the worst pain” he had felt in his life.

He told the court that he confronted Zareena, asking her why she had done this to him. She replied: “Serve you right (sic).”

He then took a taxi to the hospital by himself.

Zareena also sent messages by phone to his family members complaining about the supposed affair. She taunted him to “get... the new girlfriend to get the aloe vera” when he contacted her about two months after the incident, Ng said. — TODAY

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