Woman in Singapore appealing against 8.5 years’ jail for nearly killing low-IQ family friend through ‘appalling abuse'

Haslinda Ibrahim arrives at State Courts on March 1, 2021. — TODAY pic
Haslinda Ibrahim arrives at State Courts on March 1, 2021. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Mar 1 — A woman who, along with several of her family members, severely abused a family friend with a mild intellectual disability in their home till she nearly died, has filed an appeal against her eight-and-a-half year jail sentence.

Haslinda Ismail, 34, remains out on S$30,000 (RM91,000) bail pending the High Court appeal, after the prosecution agreed during a State Courts hearing today to keep the current bail amount.

Her lawyer, Ashwin Ganapathy from IRB Law, told the court that they filed a notice of appeal against the sentence on February 10 — a week after she was sentenced by District Judge Toh Yung Cheong.

Haslinda had pleaded guilty to three charges of voluntarily causing hurt or grievous hurt to 30-year-old Nursadiqah Sanusi by dangerous weapons or means.

As part of her bail conditions, she had earlier surrendered her travel documents and was placed on electronic tagging, which will remain.

The case, which first surfaced late last year when Haslinda’s husband was sentenced to three weeks’ jail over the abuse, has attracted heated public discussion. Prosecutors called it an “appalling case of abuse, cruelty and vileness”.

Haslinda was the fifth family member to be dealt with over the case, leaving her mother Hasmah Sulong — who faces the most serious charges — to be dealt with.

Her older sister, Hasniza Ismail, was jailed three years and ordered to pay S$1,000 in compensation, while two of their brothers were also jailed.

What happened

The family had abused Nursadiqah through increasingly grievous acts such as splashing hot water on her lower body and knocking out 10 of her teeth with a hammer.

They also chained her up in their Woodlands flat for weeks to prevent her from running away, causing her condition to become so dire that she was rushed to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in a near-death state.

Nursadiqah came to stay with the family in their Woodlands flat in early 2016, having been secondary school friends with Haslinda’s youngest brother. She had run away from home due to family problems.

She did not pay rent, giving Hasmah S$150 a month for laundry and sleeping on a mat in the living room.

Knowing Nursadiqah had mental problems, Haslinda and Hasniza discussed how to make her their slave, punishing her by slapping her on the face and hitting her.

Around mid-2016, Haslinda accused her of performing oral sex on her husband Hany. From then on, the family members engaged in various acts of abuse such as using pliers to twist her toes, with Haslinda fracturing one of them. 

Eventually, Haslinda demanded that Nursadiqah hand over her mobile phone, bank card, passport and National Identity Registration Card.

Soon, Haslinda alleged that Nursadiqah had stolen from her. On Hasmah’s request, Hasniza bought a metal chain used to secure bicycles to chain Nursadiqah up at night, tying her hands or legs to a baby swing in the living room.

They later chained her to a metal plate affixed to a wall outside Hasniza’s room.

During the holy month of Ramadan in 2017, Hasmah complained to Haslinda that Nursadiqah was very dirty and messy. On her mother’s instructions, Haslinda then knocked out two of Nursadiqah’s upper teeth with a hammer.

Haslinda also scalded her with hot water and her wounds were left unattended. Hasniza later bought cream and applied it to the wounds.

Later on Hari Raya Haji, Haslinda made Nursadiqah follow her to her new flat to help with the festive preparations. Haslinda did not allow her to use the toilet or sleep that night, causing her to urinate on the kitchen floor.

Angry with this, Haslinda struck her with a broomstick, clothes hanger and towel. She then tied Nursadiqah’s hands and legs up with cable ties and demanded that she continue standing in the kitchen in her soiled trousers, only releasing her after the other family members left.

Hasmah had brought two packets of noodles over. Haslinda urinated in one and forced Nursadiqah to eat from the soiled packet.

From late December 2017 onwards, the family chained Nursadiqah half-naked to the toilet bowl when she could no longer control her bowels.

She sat in her own faeces and urine and ate off the bathroom floor, with an unbearable stench emanating from her.

The family continued abusing her till the morning of January 16, 2018, when her condition grew so dire that Hasniza called for an ambulance. Nursadiqah was rushed to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in a near-death state.

On admission, she was dangerously ill and was expected to die over the next two days. She had lost 10 teeth, suffered multiple deformities and her corneas were damaged.

She also had multiple burns over a third of her body. She was admitted to intensive care at the Singapore General Hospital for about two weeks and was discharged after more than three months.

Nursadiqah was examined at the Institute of Mental Health, she was found to have mild intellectual disability. Most of her functioning was also in the extremely low range when she was given an intelligence quotient (IQ) assessment.

For voluntarily causing hurt or grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means, Haslinda could have been jailed up to seven or 15 years respectively, or fined. 

Both offences attract caning but women cannot be caned under the law. — TODAY

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