Heartbreaking case : Boy 4, dies after father makes him eat chilli as ‘form of discipline’


A father was sentenced to eight months in jail for causing the death of his two-year-old son by making him eat a piece of chilli as a ‘form of discipline’ on Thursday (May 30).

The incident occurred on August 2, 2022, when the man noticed that his son smelled of feces. The boy, who was going through toilet training at the time, denied relieving himself when questioned by his father.

In an attempt to teach the child a lesson about lying, the man forced the tip of a chilli into his son’s mouth. Chilli became lodged in the boy’s airway, causing him to choke to death despite his father rushing him to a nearby clinic.

The autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was acute airway obstruction by a foreign body, namely the piece of chilli.


On Aug 2, 2022, while the family was at home, the father noticed a strong smell of feces coming from the victim. The boy was in the process of toilet training and was supposed to inform his parents when he needed to use the bathroom.

After questioning the boy and being told that he had not relieved himself, the father decided to discipline him for lying by giving him a piece of chili to eat. The boy was lying on the floor and refused to eat it.

The father then sat on a chair above the boy and inserted the tip of the chili into his mouth, letting it go once he felt it pass beyond the boy’s teeth.

The boy ran around, grabbing at his throat before collapsing. Despite his mother’s attempts at the Heimlich manoeuvre, his condition did not improve. The father asked her to call for an ambulance and see if they could quickly take him to a nearby clinic. Given permission, the father swiftly carried his son to the clinic. The doctor immediately noticed the boy was not breathing and had no pulse. He instructed his staff to call for an ambulance and began CPR on the child.

Despite efforts to rescue him, the boy was unable to be saved and was declared dead at approximately 3.10pm at Sengkang General Hospital.

An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was due to “acute airway blockage caused by a foreign object”. A fragment of chili, measuring 10mm by 15mm by 8mm, was found lodged firmly in the boy’s airway.

According to the report, the prosecutor requested a jail term of nine to 12 months.

Defense lawyer Taufiq Suraidi asked for seven months’ imprisonment for his client, stating that the level of recklessness displayed in this case was not particularly high.

“We have testimonials from his wife and family that he is a loving father to all his children,” the lawyer stated.

“He is a devoted family-oriented man and places the interests of his children above his own.”

Additionally, the lawyer clarified that his client was not an abusive father, as evidenced by the family testimonials and the autopsy report that indicated no other signs of abuse apart from the chili pepper stuck in the boy’s airway. The lawyer mentioned that his client had “taken precaution” by not forcing the entire chili pepper into his son’s mouth.

Instead, he only inserted a small portion and ceased once he felt it had passed the boy’s teeth.

“All this shows that his sole intention in disciplining his son was only to teach him that lying is not a behaviour that should be carried out,” Mr. Taufiq stated according to the report.

He added that his client felt considerable guilt and remorse. Following the incident, the man was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and experienced thoughts of suicide.

“This is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life,” the lawyer said.

“Nevertheless, I submit that the law must have its way. He has learnt most painfully from this incident and is unlikely to re-offend” the lawyer added.

After the incident, the man and his family participated in various family programs to enhance their coping skills and parenting practices, the lawyer mentioned.

District Judge Ong Hian Sun described the case as “indeed a sad case”.

Judge said : “This situation could have been avoided if you had chosen a different method to discipline your child”.

“This method of disciplining a vulnerable victim, or any such method … should be discouraged … at all costs” the judge added.

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