Child abuse couple get 8 months

National 3 minutes, 1 second

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A LOCAL man who physically abused a four-year-old girl and her mother, who filmed it, were yesterday both sentenced to prison.

At the High Court, 28-year-old Mohammad Shahiful Rizal Bakri was sentenced to eight months in prison and one stroke of the cane after earlier pleading guilty to the charge of abusing his partner’s daughter sometime in December 2015 at a house in Kg Mengkubau.

Meanwhile, the victim’s 28-year-old mother was sentenced to eight months in prison for allowing Mohammad Shahiful to abuse her child.

The prison sentences are to run from the date of their remand.

In delivering his verdict yesterday, Presiding High Court Judge Justice Dato Paduka Hairol Arni Majid said that such cases that came to court have varied both in terms of seriousness and the sentences that were passed, citing several child abuse cases where offenders were sentenced to between three months and three years in prison as well as whippings. He said it was very difficult to gain much assistance by way of comparison with other cases of this sort of offence.

The judge said the court’s approach on sentencing is on the basis that at one extreme, there are offenders who deliberately and violently injured children for no reason at all and at the other, there are those who through financial pressure or family problems fall into a trap and succumb to violence and physical abuse, to which he said that neither was an excuse.

Justice Dato Hairol Arni said that in this particular case, it is difficult to understand how a mother, who is the co-accused, could have allowed her daughter to be abused in such a manner and recorded it on video. The court further deemed that both defendants should share the same degree of culpability for their offences.

“The reality is that the victim was subjected to verbal and physical abuse. She was tied up and physically restrained while the mother watched.

“If their excuse was to discipline the victim, this court fails to see how such action would have any positive effect on the child at all,” he said.

While the court considered that the defendants did show genuine remorse and distress at what they had done and it took into account their clean record, the judge believed that it is in the interest of justice to punish those who have committed this sort of offence to reflect society’s abhorrence and provide an opportunity for the couple to make amends.

“An appropriate sentence is necessary to satisfy the public conscience and also to deter others from committing this sort of offence. The court should make a stand that these sort of offences will result in condign or deserving punishment upon conviction,” said Justice Dato Hairol Arni.

The court further ordered for the video to be no longer released.

The duo was arrested on January 25 after a three-minute video showing the abuse was heavily circulated on social media.

Mohammad Shahiful admitted that both of them had agreed to tie the victim with cable to teach her a lesson for being naughty. He then proceeded to hit, pinch, scold and slide the victim across the floor despite the victim’s screaming and constant cries to be released.

The victim also called out to her mother for help, but she ignored it and continued to video the victim’s ordeal.

Mohammad Shahiful also revealed that he was in a relationship with the co-accused, who is a widow with two children from her previous marriage, and that they would regularly sleep together with the victim at the Kg Mengkubau residence.

The Brunei Times