He was choked, pushed against a wall and stomped by his mother, and he later died from his severe injuries. All because the four-year-old boy was unable to recite the numbers 11 to 18 in Malay.
Noraidah Mohd Yussof, 34, assaulted Mohammad Airyl Amirul Haziq Mohamed Ariff on 1 August 2014 at her flat in Eunos Crescent. Airyl succumbed to his injuries four days later.
Appearing in the High Court on Monday (28 March), Noraidah pleaded guilty to two counts each of causing grievous hurt and ill-treating a child for the assault.
But the fatal assault was not an isolated case. Noraidah, a divorcee, admitted to four other instances of physical abuse between 2012 and 2014 that took place at her Eunos flat.
She was originally charged with causing grievous hurt. When the boy died, she was charged with murder but this was later amended to the original charge.
Abuse began in 2012
Court papers revealed that the abuse started some time in March 2012 after Noraidah got upset with her son for being unable to recite the alphabet properly. She pushed Airyl to the floor before stepping on his ribs. She also twisted and pulled his hand during that incident.
Noraidah took her son to Kandang Kerbau Hospital on 12 March 2012 where Airyl was diagnosed to have suffered from fractures to his elbow, calf and ribs.
According to court papers, Airyl was then referred to the Ministry of Family and Social Development, which placed him under the care of his maternal uncle and sister in law. The papers did not mention why she was allowed to resume taking care of her son later.
Deadly assault in 2014
On 1 August 2014, Noraidah fetched Airyl from school and brought him home.
After lunch, Noraidah asked her son to recite the numbers 11-18 in English and Malay. She got angry when Airyl was unable to recite the numbers in Malay and shouted at him.
She then asked her son to do it again around 4.30 pm and was infuriated when he was unable to do it again. Noraidah then pushed her son, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head.
Her son got up and continued reciting the numbers wrongly. Noraidah then pushed him again before stepping on him.
She then asked her son to get ready and follow her to fetch her eldest daughter from school. While this was happening, her son still recited the wrong number sequence in Malay to her.
Enraged, Noraidah choked her son and pushed him up against the wall. The boy started gasping for air and later stopped moving.
Noraidah then called her sister-in-law for help and lied to her that the boy hit his head after a fall in the toilet. They took the boy to a nearby clinic, where the doctor called for an ambulance.
The boy underwent emergency surgery but remained in critical condition and died four days later.
Sentencing at a later date
Justice Lee Seiu Kin, who presided over the case, will sentence Noraidah at a later date. A separate hearing will be held to resolve the difference in opinions between the psychiatrists for the prosecution and the defence.
Noraidah’s counsels, led by Sunil Sudheesan, said that their psychiatrist concluded that she was suffering from Asperger’s syndrome at the time of the assault.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang told the court that Noraidah’s family’s accounts to the defence psychiatrist were different from the ones they had earlier given to a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health.