Maid jailed 12 months for hurting employer's 87-year-old mum more than 20 times

SINGAPORE - A domestic worker who vented her frustration on her employer's elderly mother by hurting the 87-year-old more than 20 times was jailed for 12 months on Wednesday.

Indonesian Sulastri Sakiran Sumadi, 37, had borne a grudge against her employer over a dispute they had sometime in February last year.

Instead of sorting the matter out with her employer, Ms Marlene Poh Geok Hee, 51, she vented her dissatisfaction on Ms Poh's mother, Madam Tan Lye Hoe, by using her bare hands or an object to hurt her as a form of revenge.

She faced 24 charges and admitted to eight counts.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai said Sulastri was employed in April 2013 to do household chores and take care of Madam Tan, who suffers from a host of medical conditions including Alzheimer's disease. She was also bedridden.

From May 17 to June 21 last year, Sulastri repeatedly caused hurt to various parts of the victim's body using various means at her employer's home in Dunman Road.

Every time she hit or inflicted hurt upon the victim, the elderly woman would neither retaliate nor shout. Instead, she would say "sakit'' (Malay for pain) softly and apologise to the maid, despite not knowing what she had done which led to the assault.

Unknown to the maid, her actions of voluntarily causing hurt were recorded by a closed-circuit TV installed in the victim's room.

It was only when the victim complained to her daughter of pain in her head did the latter review the CCTV footage and saw what Sulastri had done.

The court heard that on three occasions on June 13, Sulastri forcefully hit the victim's shoulders with her hands, used a pillow to hit her face, and a comb to hit Madam Tan's head.

On June 20, she used a dustbin to hit the victim's leg, followed by a towel to hit her face. She also hit the victim on the face on three separate occasions the next day.

Pleading for a light sentence, Sulastri said her mother died in February last year and she had asked her employer for leave to go home but was rejected. She said she could not control her mind and took it out on the victim.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo said she had been cruel and wicked towards the victim, who was totally dependent on her care.

"You used such force that you left bruises and marks on this old lady. I agree with prosecution a deterrent sentence is definitely called for," she said.

She hoped Sulastri would reflect on what she had done while in prison, and become a better person.

The maximum penalty for causing hurt is two years' jail and a $5,000 fine on each charge.

elena@sph.com.sg