SEREMBAN: A babysitter, who shoved a green chilli into the mouth of a toddler under her care till he choked to death just two days before Hari Raya Aidilfitri, has been jailed for 18 months.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Muhammad Afif Kamarol Azli had been ill on the morning of June 13 and did not stop whimpering despite being pacified by the accused, Asmarani Ghazali.
She then took out a green chilli from the refrigerator, broke it into half and put it into the boy’s mouth to make him stop.
Upon noticing that he was having breathing difficulties, Asmarani, accompanied by her husband and one of her own children, rushed the boy to two clinics.
They were advised to take him to Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital instead, but the child died shortly after admission.
According to the statement of facts, his mother Rahmawati Efriza, 31, had sent him and his five-year-old brother to Asmarani’s house in Taman Tuanku Ja’afar near here.
Asmarani, who had been looking after Muhammad Afif for two years, had initially pleaded not guilty when charged with murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code.
The mother of three was then slapped with an alternative charge under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act, read together with Section 31(5)(b), which provides a jail term of up to 20 years or a fine of up to RM50,000 upon conviction.
She pleaded guilty to the charge after it was read to her before High Court judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.
She was charged with committing the offence at her house in Taman Tuanku Ja’afar near here two days before Hari Raya.
Yesterday, the judge delivered his verdict after hearing submissions from both parties and an impact assessment from Rahmawati.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin urged the court to impose a sentence of between 10 and 15 years in jail due to the seriousness of the offence.
“Before the Act was amended in 2016, the maximum jail sentence for such an offence was 10 years. But Parliament, upon realising the seriousness of such offences, increased the jail term to 20 years,” he said, adding that the act was premeditated.
Defence counsel Datuk Hanif Hassan sought a lighter sentence, saying that the accused had saved the court’s time by pleading guilty to the alternative charge.
“The accused had no knowledge that the boy had swallowed the chilli. This was an accident and she is remorseful,” he said.
Rahmawati in her impact statement said her family had been traumatised by the death.
“Our happiness was shattered in an instance by this individual. My son died because he was deliberately abused and not because she was negligent,” she said, adding that she wanted justice for her boy.
“My husband had always told me that he wanted to engage a different babysitter, but I decided to continue with the accused.”
She added that on several occasions, Muhammad Afif had told her that he did not want to go to the babysitter’s house.