SINGAPORE — Impatient with an elderly woman who was getting in the way of her chores, a domestic helper pushed and tugged at her until the woman fell and broke her hip.
The helper, Kyu Kyu Aye of Myanmar, was jailed for two months on Tuesday (17 August) after she pleaded guilty to one count of committing a rash act which caused grievous hurt to the then 85-year-old woman.
Kyu Kyu Aye, 41, had been working for the family in Woodlands for six years. She knew that the elderly woman had weak legs and was susceptible to falling.
On 28 August last year, as the victim was walking towards the kitchen. The maid tried to hurry her by pulling and pushing her along a few times.
On one particular push with her hand on the elderly woman’s head or neck, the octogenarian lost her balance and fell. The act was captured on CCTV camera.
“By way of her physical infirmity, the victim was a vulnerable person who was not capable of protecting herself in the same manner of ordinary person,” Assistant Public Prosecutor Lydia Goh noted.
On previous occasions, the domestic helper would also tap the old woman’s hand or leg when the latter moved slowly. She would also push the elderly woman, but did not cause her pain.
The victim was admitted to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on 29 August last year where the fracture was discovered. She was discharged only on 28 October last year.
APP Goh sought two to three months’ jail for Kyu Kyu Aye, while the maid’s lawyer Wilbur Lua sought six to eight weeks’ jail. Lua is representing the domestic helper pro-bono under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.
Lua said that there was no malice on the maid’s part, as her action was impulsive and an "unfortunate incident". There had also been no such previous incidents.
He said in his mitigation plea that Kyu Kyu Aye came to Singapore "in the hopes of providing for her poverty-stricken family". Kyu Kyu Aye is the sole source of income for her family, which is presently in debt in her home country.
According to Lua, on the day of the incident, the maid had prepared breakfast for the elderly woman in the kitchen, while the victim performed her usual morning exercise routine by walking around the flat. She then stopped abruptly.
Anxious about the other chores she had, Kyu Kyu Aye tried to help the elderly woman move more quickly to her breakfast. "In her haste, she gave (the victim) a slightly more forceful push that, unfortunately, resulted in (the victim) losing her balance," said Lua.
“She had to attend to many chores that day and understanding she was the only person in the household at that time having to take care of the grandmother… She became stressed, she did something she shouldn’t have,” added the lawyer.
District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said he would not “downplay the seriousness” of the maid’s action.
“It was not unfortunate, it was a rash act. She pushed a vulnerable and very elderly lady causing her to fall, causing her to fracture a very large bone of the body," said DJ Chay, adding that any fracture to a person of that age is serious.
For causing grievous hurt through a rash act, a person may be jailed up to four years or fined up to $10,000, or both. If the hurt was causing to a vulnerable victim, the court may sentence the offender to up to twice the maximum penalty.
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