A father who killed his 2-year-old son by suffocating him inside a bin has been jailed; courts heard he and his wife abused the boy constantly, putting him in an oven and turning it on, and placing him in a washing machine.
Courts heard that the Tokyo couple, both 35, routinely abused their 2-year-old son.
The father on at least one occasion placed the boy in the oven and turned it on “because he was noisy”; on another occasion he put the child in a washing machine.
The child’s mother was no better; the court heard that she fed the infant cigarette butts “in order to see how intelligent he was,” and participated in or instigated much of the abuse.
The court was also shown communications between the couple in which they referred to their child using language normally reserved for animals.
They were then shown recordings the defendant had himself taken showing the boy tied to a bed and screaming, with judges reportedly grimacing and casting a cold gaze upon him. CCTV footage showed the parents kicking the infant in the stomach when he tried to exit an elevator.
The couple finally put their son in a rubbish bin, closed the lid, put the bin inside a plastic bag and tied the whole thing shut with rubber cord, leaving him in this state on their balcony and in their living room until the evening.
The boy asphyxiated during this ordeal.
The father’s defence countered that “he thought the boy would come out of the rubbish bin on his own if he wanted to, and didn’t realise he would die.” The prosecution called this explanation “unbelievable.” The pair initially told police that he had “climbed into the bin and died.”
In court, the father was questioned on what he thought would happen to his son whilst trapped in the bin, responding “I thought he’d probably just sleep until morning… I didn’t think it was dangerous.”
The mother faces identical charges but is yet to be sentenced; her defence contends “she was influenced” whilst the father’s defence maintains that she was the primary instigator of the abuse.
The prosecution sought a 12 year prison sentence for the father on a variety of charges relating to the lethal confinement, saying “the sorrows of Yui-chan were unfathomable.”
Judges apparently felt this too harsh and passed down a sentence of 11 years, acknowledging his “deep regret.”
The lay judges (quasi-jurors) seemed unimpressed by the verdict they delivered:
“It was very hard looking at that little body. 12 years for that – personally I think they should have gone further.”
“At first I thought it would be 15-18 years.”
“5 years? 10 years? 13 years? How can we amateurs know the difference? It’s hard to grasp in only 4 days.”
“I hope this sends a signal about this kind of abuse.”