Sunday, 16 June 2013

Rebecca’s story

Update 25 Sep 2014: Mother who pushed sickly son, 9, out a window and to his death given 10 years in jail

Rebecca Loh, who pushed her nine-year-old special needs son to his death last June, was on Wednesday sentenced to the maximum penalty of 10 years' jail for culpable homicide not amounting to murder

An unemployed woman was charged on Monday with the murder of her nine-year-old son, who fell to his death from their fifth-floor flat last Saturday.

Rebecca Loh Chui Lai, 31, is alleged to have committed the offence at her three-room West Coast Road home at Block 704 between 6.08pm and 7.03pm.

She displayed no emotion when the charge was read to her in a district court.

related: Mum who pushed son out of window gets 10 years’ jail

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I read the news today that Rebecca Loh, the woman who pushed her disabled nine-year-old son out of a window, would plead guilty to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Though she was diagnosed as suffering from post-schizophrenic depression at the time and has a history of schizophrenic illness, IMH still judged her fit to stand.

We need answers to the following questions:
  • Why was Rebecca left to fend for herself with a nine-year old son who suffered from osteoporosis and numerous other debilitating conditions? The report says that she did not intend to kill her son only wanted him injured so that he would be taken to a home.
  • Was there a social worker assigned to her case by MSF?
  • As she had a history of schizophrenia and police had been called to her mother’s flat on several occasions when she had beaten and strangled her mother, why was the child not put on an “At Risk” register as in other countries like the UK? She had also been arrested for threatening a stall holder with a chopper in 2011.
  • What help did the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provide? Rebecca should have been entitled to close to $1000 a month from Public Assistance as her mother was earning below $1700 a month. Perhaps because she lived with her mother MSF deemed her ineligible for assistance? When foreigners write about our Government being stingy they assume that the levels of assistance they promise to provide are in fact provided. However they are not aware that this is frequently not the case. Our bureaucracy seems especially skilled at denying those in need the help to which they are entitled
  • Why do we not provide Special Assistants to disabled children like Rebecca’s son so that they are able to attend school? Again this would be the case in most first world countries. Her son’s disabilities were physical not mental.

Rebecca’s story

Her name is Rebecca. She is a 31-year old single mother. At least that’s what her neighbours think since there’s no sign of a man in the flat where she lives with her mother.

Her son is Gabriel, nine, who had a “botched’’ liver operation a few years ago. He is bespectacled, small, sickly and jaundiced, and moves about in a pram. He is – or rather was – too sick to move about on his own. There are conflicting news reports about whether he attended school. ST said he was in a special school. TNP reported that he attended a primary school in the West Coast area where the family lives.

Going by MSM reports today quoting neighbours, Rebecca appeared to always be in a daze and have suffered at least one bout of depression. She is unemployed, a decision probably prompted by the need to care for the child. That’s why her mother goes out to work, at a bakery. They appeared to have switched breadwinner/caregiver roles over the years.

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Some thoughts regarding the case of Rebecca Loh

Rebecca Loh, the mother accused of murdering her nine-year-old son, has been certified to be of sound mind and fit for court proceedings. If found guilty of murder, she will be sentenced to death.

Rebecca’s case is a perfect example of what non-inclusive policies towards certain members of our society (i.e., single mothers, persons with serious medical conditions/ disabilities/ special needs) may result in. A State can never erase its mistakes by hanging victims of its failed policies. It needs to reflect on how its policies can be made more inclusive so that people have enough supportive network(s) to ensure that they will not fall through the cracks.

It is time our government exercises a more reflective attitude and see how their policies have failed to serve the needs of various groups in our society, resulting in the marginalisation of these groups. As mental and psychological resilience vary from person to person, I am not saying that everyone who belongs to the marginalised groups will definitely come to such a fate. However there is always a possibility, especially when one does not know where or who to seek help from and what the future may bring.

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The distressed souls

On first June, a nine-year old boy, Gabriel, fell to his death from his fifth floor public housing apartment. His mother, Rebecca, was seen crying by the window. She then rushed down to the dying body of her son and cradled him while he was lying in a pool of blood, crying hysterically that she had killed him.

According to a witness who lives across from the block, Rebecca was first seen climbing onto the window ledge at the kitchen and sitting on it. She then went back down and returned this time with her son. Next thing anyone knew, Gabriel was found unconscious at the bottom of the block.

Over the next couple of days, as the media reported on this tragedy, more information was revealed that Rebecca is a single unwed mom. Poor Gabriel was born with a weak liver, and had gone through a failed liver operation. On top of liver problem, he also suffered from jaundice, and as a result, he was sickly and had yellow skin and eyes. His legs were weak and so Rebecca had to push him around in a baby stroller. He also had to attend a special needs school, which is very likely due to his illness.

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The sad case of Rebecca Loh

The tragic life of Rebecca Loh and death of her son Gabriel has moved me more than any story to come out of Singapore in recent years. Who cannot be horrified by the thought of that poor boy’s last moments without also recognising that his mother must have been struggling with mental and physical trauma  beyond our normal capacity to comprehend. I have thought long and hard before deciding to write on the matter.

Firstly I don’t know the family or enough of the details  to write in any qualified manner, secondly it seems almost callous to reduce the family to a set of circumstances and finally Gabriel’s grandmother now has to bear not only his passing but the trauma of the trial. I  extend my deepest condolences to the family.

Nevertheless I was encouraged by Rachel Zeng’s sensitive handling of the case in her blog and so on the basis that we  do less harm by talking about this with compassion than by sweeping it under the carpet, I have decided to  write a few words

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The woman arrested and charged for murder, following her nine-year-old son's death after he was found unconscious below a block at West Coast Road on Jun 1, has been remanded for psychiatric observation. 

According to The Straits Times, Gabriel Loh, nine, died in hospital less than an hour after police found him lying unconscious at the bottom of Block 704, where he lived with his 31-year-old mother, Rebecca Loh Chui Lai and his grandmother.

A neighbour, who lives in the opposite block in West Coast Road, had seen Rebecca and Gabriel at the kitchen window of their fifth-floor West Coast Road flat moments before the latter was found at the foot of his block.

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We have all read about the 31 year old unemployed mother who dropped her 9 year old son from her flat. The poor child died. The poor child was a special needs child, needing special attention and special school. The poor mother had to stop work to look after him full time. And she has only her own mother to support her with her mother’s miserable income of $1,000 pm.

Yes, a $1,000 income in the richest country in the world is miserable, barely enough to keep one alive. Some will disagree and claim that a $1,000 income could afford to buy a public flat and get by. Well some will believe it is possible. 

How could three persons, an old lady, a young mother and a special needs child lived on a $1,000 income. Maybe there were some handouts from the govt or some charitable organizations. This is a tragic story of the lives of three miserable beans trying to get by in one of the most expensive country in the world.

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She never refused his requests

THE mother and son had patronised her shop for years and the mother always allowed her son to have what he wanted, recalled the owner of Heng Yuan Provision Shop in West Coast Road.

"The last time I saw them, two to three days ago, we even stopped to make small talk and the boy wanted a soft drink," she said."

But on Saturday evening, the nine-year-old's life ended tragically at the foot of the block where he lived in a three-room flat with his mother and grandmother.

West Coast murder: Woman accused of 9-year-old son's murder fit to plead

Rebecca Loh Chui Lai, who has been charged with killing her son, Gabriel Loh Zhen Jie, some time between 6.08pm and 7.03pm at a flat at Block 704, West Coast Road on 1 June 2013. Loh has been found fit to plead and not of unsound mind. -- LIANHE WANBAO

An unemployed woman accused of murdering her nine-year-old son earlier this month was found fit to plead and not of unsound mind. 

Rebecca Loh Chui Lai, 31, has been charged with causing the death of Gabriel Loh Zhen Jie at her flat at Block 704 West Coast Road on June 1. The boy, who attended a special school, was unconscious when police arrived. He was taken to the National University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just after 7pm. 

Loh had been remanded for psychiatric assessment. The prosecution said the psychiatric report said she was fit to plead and not of unsound mind. 

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Boy's fall: Mum charged with murder
If convicted of murder, she faces the death penalty

An unemployed woman was charged on Monday with the murder of her nine-year-old son, who fell to his death from their fifth-floor flat last Saturday.

Rebecca Loh Chui Lai, 31, is alleged to have committed the offence at her three-room West Coast Road home at Block 704 between 6.08pm and 7.03pm.

She displayed no emotion when the charge was read to her in a district court.

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Woman charged with son's murder at West Coast

Rebecca Loh Chui Lai was charged on Monday with the murder of her nine-year-old son last Saturday. -- ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

A 31-year-old woman was charged on Monday with the murder of her nine-year-old son last Saturday.

Rebecca Loh Chui Lai is alleged to have caused the death of Gabriel Loh Zhen Jie at Block 704 West Coast Road between 6.08pm and 7.03pm.

The boy, who attended a special school, was unconscious when the police arrived. He died subsequently at National University Hospital.

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