SINGAPORE — An Institute of Mental Health (IMH) health attendant who slapped an agitated patient’s head twice was jailed three weeks on Monday (23 August).
Sadasivam Kannan, 61, had been working at IMH since 2003, but was terminated from 4 March last year, after he was found to have caused hurt to the long-term patient, a 59-year-old Singaporean who had been with IMH since 2005 due to chronic schizophrenia.
Sadasivam pleaded guilty to one count of causing hurt to a vulnerable person. The victim was later diagnosed with bruising over his head, and a fracture on his toe.
Two other staff nurses, Muhammad Ihsan Mahmud, a 32-year-old Malaysian, and Iylia Muhammad Afiq Nor Effendi, a 25-year-old Singaporean, had been with Sadasivam at the time of the incidents and charged over their role.
Ihsan pleaded guilty to assault in January this year and was sentenced to nine weeks’ jail, while Iylia's case is still pending before the court.
On 8 December 2019, Sadasivam, Ihsan and Iylia reported for their morning shift. Several patients, including the victim, were scheduled for a haircut that morning.
The victim was moved to the day lounge after his haircut. He began toying with another patient’s urinals and splashed some urine on an attending assistant nurse. The assistant nurse told Ihsan about the incident and went to take a shower.
Ihsan then approached the victim, who was secured to a wheelchair with a one-point restraint. He splashed hand sanitiser on the victim’s face thrice within six minutes, for no apparent reason, according to the prosecution.
Later, the victim began creating a ruckus in the day lounge, causing Sadasivam, Ihsan and Iylia to convert the victim’s one-point restraint into a three-point restraint. However, the victim became agitated.
Ihsan then punched the victim’s eye area twice, but the victim remained aggressive and continued kicking out. The three staff held him down and the victim began to calm down.
Shortly after, the victim grew agitated again and kicked another IMH patient. Sadasivam tried to fix the victim’s restraints on his left arm.
Stressed and angered, Sadasivam then slapped the back of the victim’s head. He scolded the victim and gesticulated at him.
The victim cowered in response and quietened while Sadasivam fixed his restraints. The victim began rocking his head back and forth, and placed his head close to Sadasivam.
Sadasivam later slapped the back of the victim’s head a second time.
Iylia later discovered that the victim had some bruising around the right eye, and administered an ice pack for him. He faces charges including voluntarily causing hurt, using criminal force, and committing a rash act endangering life or safety of others.
Ihsan reported the victim’s injuries to IMH management, and a human resource manager lodged a police report stating that the three staff had assaulted the victim.
The victim was conveyed to Singapore General Hospital on 8 December 2019 and was diagnosed with bruising over his head and his left toe, which also had a fracture.
Sadasivam’s assault was also caught on CCTV camera.
For causing hurt, Sadasivam could have been jailed up to three years, or fined up to $5,000, or both. For assaulting a vulnerable person, he could have been sentenced up to twice the maximum penalty.
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