Singapore boy murder trial: Mother told police she ‘only wanted him to learn his lesson’

Azlin Arujunah and her husband Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman, both now 27, had confined their five-year-old son in their pet cat’s metal cage.. — Singapore court document via TODAY
Azlin Arujunah and her husband Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman, both now 27, had confined their five-year-old son in their pet cat’s metal cage.. — Singapore court document via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Nov 15 — When told that she and her husband would be charged with the murder of their five-year-old son, Azlin Arujunah said she had only beaten and poured hot water on the child to discipline him, and did not think that he would die from the assault.

The then-24-year-old had also told police officers that she had only gotten rough with the boy as he had given her “attitude,” the court heard yesterday when two officers, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kelvin Kwok Charn Hong and Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Agnes Leong Wee Tiang, took the stand.

Azlin and her husband Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman, both now 27, are on trial for the alleged murder of their son, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his surviving siblings.

The couple is accused of committing murder with common intention by splashing the boy with hot water in their one-room rental flat, located in the central area of Singapore, between Oct 15 and Oct 22, 2016. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

They also face multiple charges of ill-treating and assaulting the child, including confining him in their pet cat’s metal cage.

No intention of killing him'

The court heard yesterday that in the statement taken by Kwok on October 26, 2016 — a day before the couple was charged – Azlin had said: “I have no intention of killing him. If I had the intention of killing him, I would have killed my other children as well. But all my other children are safe and I do not beat them.”

She had added: “How am I able to kill a child? Just look at my small body. As a mother, I would not have the heart to kill my own child. When the incident happened, I was attending to (other children). I do not know what else to say and I missed all my children.”

The court also heard that in a statement taken by ASP Leong on the same day, Azlin had said: “I do not have the intention to pour hot water on him if he did not show any attitude towards me. I also don’t know that what I did could cause his death.”

She had also told Leong: “I only wanted him to learn his lesson. I have never beaten (the boy’s sibling) this bad. Why would I want to do this to (the five-year-old) when I have never beaten the other children? After all, he is also my son.”

Boy groaned 'sakit, sakit' on way to hospital

Leong testified that Ridzuan had told her in his statement that when he and Azlin were taking the boy to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in a taxi on October 22, 2016, the boy, who was in a drowsy state, had said “sakit, sakit,” which means “pain” in Malay.

Ridzuan had also told Leong that the boy had shouted at his mother, “kau gila ke apa?” which means “are you crazy or what?” when she was splashing hot water on him.

After these words were uttered, Azlin had allegedly grown angry, and she and her husband threw several more cups of hot water at the boy.

Leong also testified that Ridzuan had told her to include in his statement that he had seen some blood stains in the cat cage, although he said neither he nor Azlin had beaten the boy while he was in the cage.

The cage measured 70cm in height, 58cm in width and 90cm in length. The boy was 105cm tall.

On Wednesday, a forensic pathologist from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) had testified that the boy’s injuries include substantial bleeding under his scalp measuring 18cm by 10cm, which was “almost the entire head.”

She had said it is possible that lacerations found on the boy’s face and possibly the scalp were the result of being confined in the cage, as she noted that the cage had a few sharp areas.

Water used would have been hotter than 80°C: HSA scientist

Apart from the two police officers, a senior forensic scientist with the HSA’s Forensic Chemistry and Physics Laboratory testified on the likely temperature of the water that the couple had thrown on the boy.

Sherni Koh Peck Chu, who had conducted a few experiments on an Akira-brand hot water dispenser seized from the home, said that the dispenser automatically reheats water as soon as its temperature had fallen to about 80°C.

So, this would have been the minimum temperature the water was at when the parents had retrieved it from the dispenser, as it can only dispense water when switched on, she said.

It is the prosecutor’s case that the temperature of the water would have been between 86.5°C and 98.7°C, causing immediate burns.

The couple’s Malay interpreter, who facilitated interpretation work after they were arrested in 2016, Maria Bazid, also took the stand yesterday.

During her cross-examination, one of Ridzuan’s lawyers, Syazana Yahya, read from records that her client had told psychiatrist Cheow Enquan of the Institute of Mental Health, who had interviewed him at the Changi Prison complex’s medical centre, that he had previously sniffed glue and abused methamphetamine.

But Ridzuan had said in that interview, conducted in November 2016, that he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the day of his son’s death, Syazana said.

The boy’s foster mother, Azlin’s close friend Zufarina Abdul Hamid, who took care of him from when he was one month old until he was four, was supposed to take the stand yesterday.

But as she was about to be called to the stand, both Azlin and Ridzuan’s lawyers said that they had no questions for the witness.

The trial continues today. — TODAY

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