SINGAPORE — A woman who abused her daughter and maid was jailed for eight months on Wednesday (20 October) after the presiding judge declined to call for a probation report for her.
The 41-year-old woman had burned her daughter, then nine, with a hot lighter, and assaulted her Indonesian maid over four months. The 28-year-old maid climbed down one storey from her unit's kitchen window in order to escape.
The woman was earlier diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) presented with psychotic symptoms, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder. She had experienced hallucinations, telling her that the maid would harm her with a knife. Her illness was deemed by an Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist to have played a "substantial contributory role" in her offending.
During sentencing on Wednesday, District Judge Eugene Teo said that he had reviewed the woman's medical reports to see if rehabilitation was the foremost sentencing consideration in her case. However, the judge came to the conclusion that probation was not appropriate in her case.
"The present offender is but the latest instance in a long line of individuals who have committed such offences while labouring under various similar conditions. As with the others, her rehabilitation will have to take place in the context of an imprisonment term," said DJ Teo.
The judge then asked the woman's lawyer, Kalidass Murugaiyan, to submit on alternative sentences. Kalidass asked for a "non-custodial term" but also submitted for not more than six months' jail, taking into consideration the woman's psychiatric illness.
After DJ Teo announced the eight-month jail term, the woman filed an appeal against her sentence.
The woman earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of voluntarily causing hurt to her maid, and one count of ill-treating her daughter under the Children and Young Persons Act. Another count of assault and of perverting the course of justice by instructing her daughter to lie to the police were considered for her sentencing.
As one of her charges is under the CYPA, the woman cannot be sentenced to a mandatory treatment order, which would have seen her receive psychiatric treatment in lieu of jail.
None of the parties can be named as the court has imposed a gag order on all their identities.
Woman choked maid with towel
The maid was hired by the woman’s husband and resided with the family in Hougang. She began working in March 2017, and was tasked to care for the daughter and to do general household chores.
She earned a monthly salary of $580 with no days off, and was not allowed to use a mobile phone. She was required to wake at 4.30am every day and would sometimes finish work past midnight. She was also forbidden from leaving the house unless it was to accompany the woman.
The woman began assaulting her in December 2017 by slapping her face. From January 2018, the woman assaulted her nearly daily.
On the morning of a day in January 2018, the maid was cleaning the living room. When the woman saw that she had not finished cleaning, she began scolding the maid, slapping her and kicking her leg, causing her to fall backwards. The woman grabbed the maid's hair and pushed her head onto a nearby wall.
The woman then retrieved a towel from her bedroom and choked the victim with it.
On 20 March 2018, after the maid dozed off near the toilet at 5.15am, the woman kicked her, causing her to fall into the toilet.
Later that day, the maid left the unit through the kitchen window. She climbed down one floor and into a neighbour’s unit. The occupants in the unit saw the maid and called the police, after observing that she was crying.
The woman had also abused her daughter. She had instructed her daughter, then nine, to vacuum the floor in October 2019. The girl did not do so as she wanted to study for her examinations.
Feeling angry, the woman pressed the metal tip of a lighter, which was unlit but hot, onto her daughter's forearm twice. The girl sustained blisters on her forearm.
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