SINGAPORE – A man who was sentenced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane in 2022 for murdering his girlfriend’s son maintained on Monday that the nine-month-old baby had hit his head after accidentally falling from his arm.
Mohamed Aliff Mohamed Yusoff, 30, was appealing against his murder conviction.
He insisted that he had admitted in his police statements to pushing the baby’s head against the wooden floorboard of his van only because he had been threatened by two police officers.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and upheld his conviction.
The three-judge apex court agreed with the trial judge’s finding that the alleged threats never occurred.
The court accepted that Aliff’s statements were made voluntarily and admitted correctly as evidence in his trial, and therefore his claim of an accidental fall was not true.
The court also affirmed his sentence, as Aliff did not appeal for a lighter punishment.
He was charged with murdering the baby, Izz Fayyaz Zayani Ahmad, between 10pm on Nov 7, 2019, and 12.15am on Nov 8, 2019, at a multi-storey carpark in Yishun Street 81.
Izz was the son of Aliff’s then girlfriend, Ms Nadiah Abdul Jalil, from her previous marriage.
On Nov 7, 2019, Aliff, Ms Nadiah and Ms Nadiah’s elder brother bought a van for their delivery business.
That night, Aliff, who lived in Yishun, offered to take care of Izz.
Ms Nadiah handed him a bag with essential items for the boy and went to her brother’s flat in Jurong East to stay the night as it was closer to her workplace than her mother’s flat in Choa Chu Kang.
Surveillance footage showed Aliff entering the Yishun carpark at about 10pm.
At about 11pm, he left the baby in the rear cabin of the locked van, walked to a nearby supermarket to buy some items, then returned to the van.
In his statements to the police, Aliff gave differing versions of events in relation to what happened to the baby that night.
He vacillated between admitting to having pushed Izz’s head against the van’s floorboard and claiming that Izz had hit his head after accidentally falling from his arm.
An autopsy concluded that the baby died from bleeding in the brain as a result of traumatic injury.
During his trial, Aliff said he was holding Izz with his right arm and trying to close the van door with his left hand when the baby fidgeted and fell head first onto the floorboard of the van, before falling to the ground.
He alleged that on Nov 8, 2019, one police officer, who was not satisfied with his narration of an accidental fall, banged the table and said: “If you don’t change your statement, you go to the gallows.”
Aliff said he decided to create an imaginary story to escape the death sentence.
He also claimed that on Nov 11, 2019, another officer threw a water bottle at him and told him: “You better be remorseful, or I buy you a rope.”
In July 2022, the High Court rejected his defence, saying that his claim of an accidental fall was not consistent with autopsy findings and medical opinion.
On Monday, the Court of Appeal, comprising Justices Tay Yong Kwang, Steven Chong and Belinda Ang, concurred.
The court added that Aliff’s post-incident conduct also pointed to his guilt – he showed no urgency in taking the boy to a hospital.
“When he agreed eventually with the boy’s mother to bring the injured boy to receive medical attention, he was concerned that they should tell the hospital the same story, which included his defence of an accidental fall,” said the court.
At the hospital, Aliff spent 16 minutes in the parked van before walking towards the accident and emergency department.
He then spent another 20 minutes looking for a place to discard one of his two mobile phones, apparently because it contained evidence of him selling vapes.
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