KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the Sessions Court here today that the former occupant of Rumah Bonda, Yasmin Nahar Mahmood, had once told her about Bella getting scalds after having hot water spilt on her during a scuffle with another girl known as Balqis.

Norhazira Masling, 35, a friend to Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali, said the story was relayed to her by Yasmin when they were in a car entering a parking lot of a condominium in Wangsa Maju here in July 2021.

The second defence witness said this during the examination-in-chief by lawyer Mohammad Farhan Maaruf at the defence trial of Siti Bainun who was charged with neglecting and abusing the 13-year-old girl with Down syndrome.

Mohammad Farhan: What did she (Yasmin) tell you said about the things that happened to Bella?

Norhazira: Yasmin said Bella suffered hot water scalds when she scuffled with Balqis. They were running around the house and somehow hit the thermos flask, causing it to overturn before the hot water spilt on Bella’s back.

The witness said Yasmin then contacted Siti Bainun before taking Bella into the toilet where she poured cold water on the girl’s back.

Norhazira, who is a nurse, said there was no other individual with them when the conversation about Bella took place in the car.

She said Yasmin, and two other residents in the house, namely Balqis and Aida, complained quite frequently about Bella who allegedly liked to disturb other children at the condominium.

Ever since she saw Bella, Norhazira said she had a bad feeling and was worried that Siti Bainun would not be able to handle the girl.

“With the best of intentions, I told Siti Bainun to send Bella back because she is not like any normal child, but Siti Bainun said she loved her,” she said.

During cross-examination by deputy public prosecutor Zilfinaz Abbas, Norhazira disagreed with the suggestion that her testimony was a lie and deliberately fabricated to save Siti Bainun.

Meanwhile, the third defence witness, Noor Marliana Ramlee, 28, said she considered Siti Bainun as a sister who loves children and helping people.

On the hot water spills incident, however, Noor Marliana said she did not see it happen, and only found out about it after Yasmin called to inform Siti Bainun.

“After Yasmin called to inform us about the incident, Siti Bainun and I rushed to the condominium and I just saw red burn marks on Bella’s body. It was Siti Bainun who put some cream or aloe vera on it,” she said.

Siti Bainun, 30, faces two counts of neglecting and abusing the Down syndrome girl, causing her to suffer physical and emotional injuries.

She is charged with committing the offences at a condominium in Wangsa Maju here between February and June 2021. The charge was framed under Section 31 (1) (a) of the Child Act 2001 and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment or a fine of RM50,000 or both, if convicted.

The trial before Judge Izralizam Sanusi continues tomorrow. - Bernama