Teacher jailed for framing maid 'out of spite'

Unhappy with helper's work, she planted pendant in her luggage, accused her of theft

Unhappy with her maid, a preschool teacher decided to get even by framing her for theft. She planted her gold pendant in her maid's luggage and lied to the police.

Yesterday, the judge had little sympathy for the employer, Indian national Desai Asti Amit, calling her actions spiteful as he jailed the 37-year-old for seven weeks.

Deputy Public Prosecutor James Low told the court that Desai had not been happy with the work of her 23-year-old maid, Ms Kimei Dangmei, since she began working for the family last April.

Some time in August, a homesick Ms Kimei asked to return to India, but Desai refused to let her go.

On Aug 20, Desai returned home from work and realised that her son and Ms Kimei were at the playground. That was when she planted a gold pendant and metal prayer cup in the maid's luggage.

Ms Kimei ran away to a welfare organisation the next day. She was taken to the maid agency the following day. The couple went to the agency with the maid's luggage. When it was opened for inspection, Desai's gold pendant fell out from between some clothing. The metal prayer cup was also found.

Desai's husband then called the police, and Desai told them that Ms Kimei had stolen the gold pendant and she suspected her of having stolen a diamond pendant as well.

Ms Kimei was arrested and remanded at Bedok Police Station's lock-up for a day before being released on police bail.

On Sept 7, when giving a further statement to the police, Desai admitted that she had framed Ms Kimei. She pleaded guilty to giving false information to the police.

Defence lawyer Louis Joseph said lodging the police report and seeing the maid being arrested had pricked Desai's conscience. But District Judge Adam Nakhoda said Desai had multiple opportunities to tell the truth, but persisted with her lie until she was called by the police.

Ms Kimei has since returned home to India.

The maximum punishment for giving false information to a public servant is a year's jail and a $5,000 fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'Teacher jailed for framing maid 'out of spite''. Print Edition | Subscribe