Fatal abuse of toddler: Asperger's diagnosis may affect mum's sentence

Before Noraidah Mohd Yussof can be sentenced for abusing her son, the court has to determine whether or not she has Asperger's syndrome - an autism-like disorder that affects how a person interacts with others.

Defence psychiatrist Tommy Tan has diagnosed her with the condition, relying largely on interviews with her family members, primarily her mother.

But the prosecution rejects this diagnosis.

Dr Subhash Gupta from the Institute of Mental Health, who saw Noraidah and interviewed her family members not long after the boy's death in 2014, does not think she has Asperger's.

Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang told the High Court yesterday that in 2014, Noraidah's mother told Dr Gupta that there was "nothing wrong" with her.

However, the following year, her family members gave a different account to the defence psychiatrist, which resulted in Dr Tan concluding that Noraidah has Asperger's.

The DPP, noting that Dr Gupta also spoke to Noraidah's former husband and former boyfriend, pointed out that her family members were "interested parties".

A further hearing will be held for the family members to testify and both psychiatrists to give their opinions.

The issue could have a bearing on the sentence meted out to Noraidah, who is represented by Mr Sunil Sudheesan.

She faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine for causing grievous hurt and a fine of up to $4,000 and jail of up to four years for ill-treatment of a child.

This article was first published on March 29, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.