Belgian jailed for five years for killing son in Singapore
SINGAPORE, Aug 22 — A Belgian expatriate was sentenced to five years’ jail in Singapore today for killing his five-year-old son last year while suffering from severe depression during a child custody battle.
Philippe Graffart, 42, was sentenced on a reduced charge of culpable homicide instead of murder, after psychiatric findings showed he had “diminished responsibility” for suffocating his son Keryan with a pillow in their apartment.
Murder is punishable by hanging in Singapore.
Judicial Commissioner Hoo Sheau Peng said she took into consideration the grievous nature of the offence, the fact that it had been committed against a vulnerable child, and the fact that the offender was the child’s own parent.
“This sentence is necessary to show that the accused’s actions are not to be condoned,” Hoo said.
For culpable homicide without the intention of causing death, Graffart could have been jailed up to 10 years, caned and fined — or any combination of the three penalties.
Graffart looked impassive when his sentence was read out, staring straight ahead at the judge.
Representatives from the French and Belgian embassies were present during the High Court hearing, as well as two of Graffart’s former colleagues who briefly spoke to him before he was taken away to serve his sentence.
His Singaporean lawyer Ramesh Tiwary told AFP after the session that Keryan’s death is something Graffart “will have to live with for the rest of his life.”
Court documents showed Graffart was locked in a bitter custody battle over Keryan with his estranged French wife Gwendoline when he smothered the boy with a cushion after giving him a sedative on October 5, 2015.
After the killing he unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide by crashing his car before giving himself up to police.
The family had moved to Singapore from Luxembourg in September 2013 after Graffart, a financial executive, was transferred by his employer, European firm Nordea Investment Management.
Their marriage broke down early the following year.
At about lunchtime on October 5, 2015, Graffart was told about a development in his custody suit which left him distraught, court documents said.
That evening Graffart put Keryan to bed and prepared two sleeping pills for himself, but gave them to his son instead.
When the boy was asleep, Graffart placed a cushion over his son’s head until he stopped moving.
After kissing his son goodbye, Graffart went on a drive and crashed his car on purpose on a highway after unbuckling his seatbelt. But the safety airbags saved his life.
He woke up in a hospital but left it in the small hours of October 6, when he showed up at a police station with injuries from the car crash and confessed to the crime. — AFP