SINGAPORE – The Court of Appeal on Tuesday (July 12) overturned the sentences handed down to a couple who were originally given 27 years’ jail each for repeatedly splashing hot water on their five-year-son until the boy died from his injuries.
Azlin Arujunah, 30, now faces the death sentence or life imprisonment after the apex court found her guilty of murder and overturned her original conviction for four counts of causing grievous hurt.
Her husband, Ridzuan Mega Abdul Rahman, 30, had his jail term for causing grievous hurt increased to life imprisonment.
The case was adjourned to a later date for further submissions on what sentence should be handed down to Azlin and whether Ridzuan’s original caning sentence of 24 strokes should remain.
The decision by the five-judge apex court – which expanded the interpretation of the law on common intention – came after an appeal by the prosecution.
The couple had splashed hot water on the boy on four occasions between Oct 15 and Oct 22, 2016, at their one-room flat in Toa Payoh, and took him to hospital only about seven hours after he collapsed following the last incident.
Azlin splashed water on the boy in the first three incidents, while Ridzuan splashed water on the boy in the second and fourth incidents.
In what prosecutors described as “one of the worst cases of child abuse”, the boy died from horrific scald injuries, covering about 75 per cent of his body, on Oct 23.
The pair also committed other acts of abuse against the boy, including confining him to a pet cage, pinching him with a pair of pliers, hitting him with a broom and burning his palm with a heated spoon.
The pair, who have other children, were originally charged for murder with common intention to inflict fatal scald injuries on the boy.
The boy and his siblings cannot be identified due to a gag order.
In April 2020, a High Court judge found that common intention had not been sufficiently proved and asked the prosecution to file alternative charges for the acts of scalding.
In June, the judge acquitted the pair of murder and instead convicted them of causing grievous hurt by dangerous means for the acts of scalding.