Mother and daughter charged with maid's murder remanded for another week

Police officers escorting Gaiyathiri Murugayan (left, in red) and Prema Naraynasamy (right, in red) during investigations, on Aug 3, 2016.
Police officers escorting Gaiyathiri Murugayan (left, in red) and Prema Naraynasamy (right, in red) during investigations, on Aug 3, 2016. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - A mother and daughter who were charged last week with the murder of their Myanmar domestic worker at their flat in Bishan were remanded another week for investigation.

Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 36, and Prema S. Naraynasamy, 58 - both housewives - allegedly murdered their maid Ms Piang Ngaih Don, 24, at their ninth-floor flat at Block 145, Bishan Street 11, between July 25 and 26.

Ms Piang, who has a young child, had worked for the family for about a year.

Police had received a call at about 11am on July 26 for assistance. When police arrived, Ms Piang was found motionless and pronounced dead at the scene.

In court on Thursday (Aug 4), Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal requested that Gaiyathiri and Prema be remanded for another week for investigation.

Their lawyer, Mr Sunil Sudheesan, who was briefed by family members earlier this week, applied for access to his clients, but the prosecutor objected.

DPP Faizal said investigations were still in their "infancy". He said the pair were taken back to their flat on Wednesday (Aug 3) and follow-up investigations were required. He also said some exhibits were seized and these needed further follow-ups as well.

Mr Sunil then asked how access to counsel would impede police investigation.

DPP Faizal said the question was to balance the accused persons' rights against public interest. He added that since it had been only seven days since the mother and daughter were charged, the application for access to counsel ought to be dismissed.

District Judge Christopher Goh turned down Mr Sunil's application for access and ordered that the mother and daughter be remanded until Aug 11 at Central police division.

But he allowed Mr Sunil's other application for the Law Society's pamphlet of rights to be given to his clients to read before they were taken away.

Gaiyathiri asked the judge if she could see her family members. When Judge Goh said no, she asked if she could at least speak to her husband in court "now". The judge told her: "Not for now."

If convicted of murder, the pair face the death penalty.