9-month jail term for maid abuse

Judge rejects tutor's claim of depression, saying her actions were reprehensible

A TUTOR who repeatedly abused a 17-year-old maid over three months, including by poking her with a pair of scissors, biting and scalding her, was sentenced to nine months in jail yesterday.

Low Gek Hong, 37, was also ordered to pay $5,000 as compensation to the Myanmar helper. District Judge Mathew Joseph called her actions "utterly reprehensible".

Low, who is appealing, had pleaded guilty almost two years ago to six counts of maid abuse, with another 12 charges, which included criminal intimidation and insulting modesty, taken into consideration during sentencing.

She claimed she was suffering from depression when she abused the maid, who was hired by her mother. But after listening to the evidence, the district judge rejected this, saying her actions were deliberate. Highlighting how Low had assaulted the victim over trivial matters, he said it was in the public interest that the court impose a stiff sentence to deter similar offences which have been on an "upward trend" in Singapore.

Low, who is single, started the abuse in December 2011, three months into the maid's employment at her Tampines flat. She repeatedly scratched the maid on the face, arms and ears for being inefficient. In February 2012, Low used a pair of scissors to poke the victim's left shoulder because the latter could not find a pillowcase that she wanted changed. She also punished the maid by kicking her, biting her, and hitting her with a metal hanger.

Once, when she found the maid asleep in the toilet, she poured a mug of hot water onto her back.

On Feb 22 that year, the maid sought help from a neighbour, who called the police. She had burns on her lower back, a broken left finger, bruises on her shins, arms and hands and multiple scratch and bite marks. The district judge said the serious injuries, prolonged and persistent abuse, and use of household items as weapons aggravated the abuse.

elena@sph.com.sg