Locked door led to maid's fatal fall

Coroner: She tried to get into room via balcony because she didn't know where the key was

A maid's "foolhardy effort" to re-enter a locked room via the balcony of a 15th floor condominium ended in tragedy when she fell to her death, a coroner's court heard.

Ruling out foul play, State Coroner Marvin Bay found that Indonesian Sriyati had either slipped or missed a step.

He found that the 29-year-old had succeeded in opening the window of the room, but fell before she could get through it to enter the room - which was 1.16m away.

"This case exemplifies the need for employers to keep their helper apprised of where keys are kept for use, in the case of an emergency," he said on Wednesday.

"Helpers should also be counselled never to attempt to re-enter a locked room by climbing through the room's window via a balcony or ledge."

Madam Sriyati died at the Ris Grandeur condominium in Elias Road on Dec 17 last year.

KEEP HELPERS INFORMED

This case exemplifies the need for employers to keep their helper apprised of where keys are kept for use, in the case of an emergency.

STATE CORONER MARVIN BAY

The court heard that before her female employer's husband left for work that morning, he gave her $10 to buy food for his two sons, aged 13 and 11, at a nearby food court.

The employer was in Kuala Lumpur on a business trip.

The boys were in the master bedroom when Madam Sriyati told them she was going to buy food for them.

About 20 minutes later, they heard a door slam, but did not think it unusual as it was normal for the doors to slam shut due to strong winds.

After that, the younger boy heard Madam Sriyati cry out, but the older boy had headphones on and heard nothing.

It was some time later that they realised she was missing. The house keys were still on the table.

Madam Sriyati's body was found on a grass patch near some bushes about 2m from the block.

After the boys' father had rushed home, he used a key in a display cabinet to unlock the room door.

The coroner said Madam Sriyati's employer conceded that she might not have known that the key to unlock the door was in the cabinet.

Investigations found that the window of the room was open, and there were some black prints on the window and window panel.

A plastic chair had been placed at the corner of the balcony and a flower pot had been moved.

The court heard that Madam Sriyati had never complained of any problems nor expressed any intention to end her life during her nine-month employment with the household.

The coroner added: "The investigation showed that upon the room door being locked shut from wind pressure, Madam Sriyati had apparently made a foolhardy effort to try to reach the room from the balcony, presumably to unlock the door."

He said Madam Sriyati's accidental fall was a tragic misadventure.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Locked door led to maid's fatal fall'. Print Edition | Subscribe