Domestic helper jailed two weeks for fracturing seven-month-old baby's elbow

A domestic helper was sentenced to two weeks' jail after she caused a fracture on the right elbow of her employer's seven-month-old daughter in February by yanking on the baby's arm.
A domestic helper was sentenced to two weeks' jail after she caused a fracture on the right elbow of her employer's seven-month-old daughter in February by yanking on the baby's arm.ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A domestic helper was sentenced to two weeks' jail after she caused a fracture on the right elbow of her employer's seven-month-old daughter in February by yanking on the baby's arm.

Valencia Gemalyn Garma, 24, had been employed to do general house cleaning and to look after her employer's two children.

The court heard that on Feb 21 this year, at about 1.30am, Valencia had settled down to sleep with the baby but was disturbed when the baby began crying. She said that she had not managed to fall asleep and was agitated and tired after having had to care for her employer's older child, who was two years old.

She picked up the baby in an attempt to pacify her, and carried the baby on her right arm. Later, she transferred the baby to her chest by forcefully pulling at the baby's right hand.

When the baby continued crying for 10 minutes, Valencia suspected that she had hurt the baby, but did not inform her employer out of fear. The employer was awoken by the baby's cries and took over, telling Valencia to go to sleep.

But when her daughter continued to cry for half an hour before falling asleep, and woke up crying again at 3am, she became concerned that the baby might be in pain. Examinations by doctors at Thomson Medical Centre and KK Women's and Children's Hospital revealed that the child had suffered a fracture to her right elbow.

When questioned by her employer, Valencia initially denied any involvement but later admitted to hurting the child.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Fong Jin Heng submitted that Valencia's failure to inform her employer of the possible injury significantly delayed the baby's mother from seeking necessary medical attention.

District Judge Toh Yung Cheong took into account the fact that Valencia had not had prior experience in caring for children and her tired state at the time of the negligent act, and ordered a short sentence of two weeks' jail.

For causing grievous hurt by a negligent act, she could have been jailed up to six months and fined up to $2,500.

rkurohi@sph.com.sg