Saigon couple who forced toddler to smoke meth get jail sentences

By Hai Duyen   May 29, 2024 | 11:18 pm PT
Saigon couple who forced toddler to smoke meth get jail sentences
Nguyen Thao Nguyen (L) and Le Van Bam at a court in HCMC, May 29, 2024. Photo by police
A man and his girlfriend have received prison terms for abusing her three-year-old son, forcing the boy to smoke meth and making a video of it for "entertainment."

A court in Ho Chi Minh City’s Hoc Mon Province on Wednesday sentenced Le Van Bam, 45, to 8.5 years in prison for the charges of "torturing others" and "illegal possession of drugs."

His girlfriend, Nguyen Thao Nguyen, 24, got one year behind bars for "torturing others."

Nguyen married in 2018 and has two children, one was born that year and another in 2020.

In October 2021, her husband entered rehab and during this time, Nguyen started an affair with Bam. Eventually, he came to live with her and her two kids in Hoc Mon.

Bam often beat Nguyen's youngest son for crying and for "entertainment," the trial heard.

Bam said that on April 10, 2022, he forced the boy, who was then three years old, to hold a water bottle on top of a speaker and made him hold his position.

When the boy got tired and cried, Bam reprimanded and threatened him, causing him to cry even more.

Five days later, Bam smoked meth with Nguyen, and then let the boy smoke as well. About 10 days after that, at dawn, he tied the boy up and put him down on the floor, without any clothes on.

Bam then used tools like hammers and scissors, threatening to hit the boy's genitals with them.

Bam said did he did it because the boy refused to sleep.

"I was just kidding. I consider him my own son," he said at the trial. When the judge asked why he tied the boy up, Bam stayed silent.

Nguyen said she witnessed how Bam abused her son multiple times, recorded it on a phone, and sent them to her friends.

During the investigation, she said she was "excited to see Bam abusing her son," so she recorded it on video and sent them to her friends for entertainment.

In March last year, Nguyen's husband completed rehab and returned to find Nguyen and their children. He used his wife's Facebook account to continue their previous e-commerce business.

He then discovered the clips showing his son being abused and made to smoke drugs.

He reported it to the police and sent it to several friends, hoping to have more people criticize his wife and her boyfriend online.

According to the trial panel, Bam has several criminal records with different convictions, and both defendants have committed crime multiple times, necessitating a strict punishment.

However, during the investigation and at the trial, both were honest in their statements and showed remorse, and Nguyen committed the crime while pregnant, so the court reduced her responsibility.

According to Phu Nu Viet Nam (Vietnamese women), a news site managed by the Vietnam Women’s Union, tests showed the boy was negative for drugs and that his health is stable.

The police have transferred the child to the SOS Children's Village in the city’s Go Vap District.

The reason he was sent there instead of returning to his father is that he does not have a birth certificate and the father does not have legal papers to prove he is the boy's biological father.

Lawyer Do Ngoc Thanh, who is helping the father with the papers, told Phu Nu Viet Nam that the boy was born in 2020, during the Covid-19 outbreak, so his parents did not have a chance to register his birth.

Afterwards, the couple had many conflicts, leading the mother to leave home with the children. During this time, the father tried to contact the mother to register the birth, but she avoided him.

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