Father who fractured infant daughter's skull, bit her gets 4 years' jail, 8 strokes
Frustrated that he had no money to buy drugs, a 23-year-old father bit his 10-month-old daughter and threw her against a wall, causing her skull to fracture.
In addition to the fracture, the infant suffered internal brain bleeding, bruises and abrasions all over her body, along with bite marks on her limbs and earlobes.
At the State Courts on Thursday (2 November), the father, who cannot be named to protect the girl’s identity, was sentenced to four years’ jail and eight strokes of the cane. This was more than the six strokes that the prosecution had asked for.
He admitted to one count of causing grievous hurt to his biological daughter by shoving her head against the wall and to one count of ill treating the child by biting her. Two counts of ill treating the girl, including throwing a plastic bottle at her face, were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
History of abuse
According to the man’s wife, who is also the girl’s biological mother, the man had been biting his daughter as far back as May 2016. The father, who is unemployed, had started using drugs as early as 2007 and had developed a daily habit when he began abusing his daughter.
The court heard that the father would vent his anger on his wife and their child when he was frustrated. As a result, the girl feared her father and would cry when she saw him.
On 9 August last year, the father had been angry over not having money to buy drugs and began scolding his wife in their flat. The argument startled his daughter, who began crying.
After failing to pacify the girl, the father shoved her head against the wall, causing the back of her head to hit the wall. She fell onto a mattress and her mother quickly carried her away.
The girl sustained severe head injuries from the incident, including a fracture and bleeding in her brain and retina. The next morning, while carrying his daughter, the man bit her all over her left forearm and upper arm. He also bit her ears later that day.
A total of 30 distinct injuries were found all over the girl’s body when she was examined. The family of three were residing with the man’s parents during the time of the offences.
The father has been serving a term in the Drug Rehabilitation Centre, for drug consumption offences, since September 2016.
‘Appalling and senseless’ violence
The prosecution sought four years jail and six strokes of the cane, describing the abuse as “repeated and relentless”. Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sheryl Yeo said that it was “fortuitous” that the girl’s maternal grandfather reported the case.
The man vented his frustration on a completely defenceless child who was dependant on her caregivers in an “appalling, callous and senseless manner”, said DPP Yeo.
She added that child abuse cases were underreported. While 263 to 415 cases were investigated from 2008 and 2014, the numbers rose to 551 in 2015 and 873 in 2016 as more cases were uncovered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, she said.
DPP Yeo also pointed out that the man’s past offences showed he had a continual disregard of the law. He had been sent to a juvenile home in 2007 for property-related offences, sentenced to reformative training for robbery with hurt in 2012 and was also jailed nine months for drug-related offences in 2014.
District Judge Lim Keng Yeow described the case as “gravely heartrending”.
“The facts disclose how (the father) inflicted cruel abuse and grievous injury, evidently because he was addicted to drugs. He repeatedly vented his anger and frustration on her. A stern warning must be issued to the public (that) society has no tolerance for such offences (and) perpetrators should not expect to receive leniency,” said DJ Lim.
He added that the full force of the law must be meted out to protect the vulnerable and defenceless.
In mitigation, the man told the court that his wife was facing financial difficulties and pleaded for leniency.
For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, the man could have been jailed up to 10 years, fined and/or caned. For ill treating his daughter, he could have been jailed up to four years and/or fined $4,000.
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