Man gets 16-year jail, woman 8 years in toddler death case

National 2 minutes, 23 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A MAN who caused the death of his adopted daughter was jailed for 16 years yesterday, while his wife was jailed for eight years in what the High Court described as a shocking case of “cruel and prolonged” child abuse.

The defendants, Md Firdhaus Hamid and Masnani Hj Masri, subjected their three-year-old adopted daughter to regular beatings with a metal rod, and scalding with heated instruments including a blowtorch.

The victim died after sustaining 121 injuries on her body, including one that permanently disfigured her face.

High Court Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong said the defendants had devised an elaborate scheme, “motivated purely by greed“, to trick the girl’s biological parents into handing over custody.

He sentenced Firdhaus to 16 years and 10 strokes for 11 charges including culpable homicide not amounting to murder; kidnapping; assault; impersonation; trying to sell custody of the victim to a third party; and illegally disposing of the corpse.

“The defendant is a wicked and dangerous man and it is in the public interest he be imprisoned for a long time,” said Dato Chong.

The victim’s adoptive mother, Masnani, was not charged with causing the girl’s death but was jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to seven charges including child abuse and kidnapping.

Dato Chong added that “cruel and prolonged” cases of child abuse must be strongly condemned by the court.

Court documents revealed a gruesome portrait of the abuse that lead to the death of the victim, referred to as Miss X.

Firdhaus and Masnani posed as members of the royal family in order to trick the victim’s parents into giving her and her seven-month-old brother up for adoption.

Firdhaus also promised Miss X’s parents to help them with their financial difficulties by clearing their debts and reinstating the father’s job.

However, police investigation uncovered that Firdhaus tried to offer Miss X for adoption to a Malay couple in return for $3,000.

Both defendants confessed to repeatedly beating Miss X during her four-month stay with them.

Firdhaus, who is a former policeman, admitted to hitting her with a metal rod, broomstick and books, and to locking her up in a storeroom as punishment when she refused to talk or eat.

Miss X was found dead in the backseat of the couple’s car on September 14, when the couple were on their way to a shop.

The post-mortem report listed the cause of death as “shock following multiple soft tissue injuries to the body”.

The body was later disposed of by the convicts with the help of Firdhaus’s stepmother, Ros Tinah, and her friend, Yussof Ibrahim.

The victim’s body was stripped of its clothing and placed among shrubbery in an isolated area of Kuala Balai.

The matter came to police attention only after Yussof felt remorse for his actions and alerted the police.

The Brunei Times