Woman pressed heated spoon on maid's face, arms

Zinnerah could have been jailed for up to 101/2 years and fined on each charge.
Zinnerah could have been jailed for up to 101/2 years and fined on each charge.

She gets 20 months' jail after pleading guilty to three counts of maid abuse at her home

All she did was break a cup while washing utensils in the kitchen.

But that was enough reason for the domestic helper's employer, Zinnerah Abdul Majeed, to press a heated metal spoon on her arms around the last week of August last year.

The helper, Ms May Thu Phyo, 23, had been working for the family for only about a month when the abuse started.

That was not the only punishment Ms May had to endure over a two-week period, a district court heard yesterday. Zinnerah had hit her with a bamboo pole, a belt buckle and even a bicycle lock, leaving her with multiple injuries.

On another occasion, Zinnerah, 28, pressed a heated spoon against the left side of Ms May's face.

Six other charges - including hitting the victim's head with a belt's metal buckle and a bamboo pole, hitting her left cheekbone with a TV remote control, and punching and kicking her - were considered in sentencing.

That was after she accused the maid of eating food left behind by Zinnerah's husband, Mr Mohammed Yazar Arafat Abbas Manthiri.

The court heard it was the husband who had asked Ms May to finish his food because he could not. After confronting Ms May, who remained silent, Zinnerah heated the metal spoon and abused the maid.

Yesterday, she was jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to three counts of maid abuse at her home in Yishun Avenue 4.

For losing her trolley and damaging several of her things, Zinnerah used a bicycle lock to hit the maid on the arms some time during the last week of August.

Six other charges - including hitting the victim's head with a belt's metal buckle and a bamboo pole, hitting her left cheekbone with a TV remote control, and punching and kicking her - were considered in sentencing.

The maid ran away from the flat on Sept 4 last year. A member of the public found her in a state of distress at a void deck several blocks away and called the police.

She was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. Multiple injuries were found on her face, arms and shoulders. She also had multiple second- degree burn wounds on the left side of her face and hands, which will likely leave permanent scars.

She was discharged with painkillers and is now in a shelter.

Seeking a sentence of nine to 13 months' jail per charge, the prosecution said these were wanton acts of cruelty, noting that the burn wounds are likely to be permanent.

The fact that Zinnerah deliberately heated the spoon on two occasions to inflict the maximum amount of pain and injury to the victim revealed a reckless disregard for the well-being of the person who was totally dependent on her.

Zinnerah's lawyer V. Suriamurthi said the mother of three regrets what she did and is remorseful. He said Zinnerah was at the time in the late stage of pregnancy with her third child.

She has made compensation of $6,180 to the maid for loss of earnings and medical expenses.

Zinnerah could have been jailed for up to 101/2 years and fined on each charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2016, with the headline 'Woman pressed heated spoon on maid's face, arms'. Print Edition | Subscribe