An Indonesian domestic helper who said she was hit by her employer retaliated by swinging the 69-year-old woman's head against a wall and then drowning her in the bungalow's swimming pool.
Indonesian Dewi Sukowati, 20, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 years' jail yesterday for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The court heard that at about 7.30am on March 19, 2014, Dewi - then 18 - had taken a glass of water on a tray to socialite and porcelain artist Nancy Gan Wan Geok at her home in Victoria Park Road. It was her sixth day at work.
According to the statement of facts of the case, Madam Gan was upset that the glass was served on the wrong type of tray. She then splashed the water on Dewi's face and threw the tray on the floor.
When Dewi bent down to pick up the tray, Madam Gan snatched it from her and hit her on the head with it.
She also scolded the teenager - whose age at the time of the arrest was reported as 23, the minimum age for foreign domestic workers to work in Singapore - and threatened to cut her salary to $200.
Dewi snapped, grabbing Madam Gan's hair and swinging her head against the wall with all her strength. The back of Madam Gan's head hit the wall and she lost consciousness, bleeding profusely from her wound.
Frightened, Dewi stayed where she was and spent 10 minutes collecting her thoughts.
She then placed her ear on Madam Gan's chest to check if she was still breathing, and heard a weak heartbeat.
Worried that Madam Gan would call the police if she woke up, Dewi decided to drown her employer. She dragged Madam Gan by the hair towards the swimming pool.
Along the way, she recalled Madam Gan's daily scoldings and felt angry again. She slammed Madam Gan's head on the edge of a ceramic-tiled step, causing more blood to flow out.
She then grabbed Madam Gan by her pyjamas and dragged her across more steps, causing the older woman's head to hit multiple steps on the way down.
On reaching the pool, Dewi pushed Madam Gan in face down.
She returned to Madam Gan's room and took a pair of her sandals, which she threw into the pool to create the impression that Madam Gan had committed suicide.
After cleaning all the blood in the house and changing into a fresh set of clothes, Dewi went to the neighbour's house to ring the doorbell. On the way, she met a dispatch rider riding past and asked him to help her, saying her employer was in the swimming pool. The man called the police.
Madam Gan, a mother of two who was formerly married to former Hong Kong Legislative Council politician Hilton Cheong-leen, was an accomplished pianist and a well-known porcelain painter who regularly donated her works to raise funds for charity.
The autopsy report certified the cause of her death as "drowning contributed by contused brain due to a fractured skull".
The pathologist also said the injuries "were sufficient" to cause death. If Madam Gan had not been thrown into the pool, she "would have died from her head injuries".
In the first of four psychiatric reports, dated May 2014, Dr Kenneth Koh from the Institute of Mental Health assessed Dewi to be "not of unsound mind at the time of the offence and fit to plead".
In a later report, in January last year, Dr Koh found that Dewi suffered from abnormality of the mind at the time of the offence, which "significantly impaired her judgment, impulse control and mental responsibility".
Then, in a report less than three months later, he diagnosed her with acute stress reaction, "which arose from a disease of mind". In his last report last month, he said she was likely to be free from any mental disorder, and that her psychiatric prognosis was good.
He said her "dangerousness" would be best assessed after observation over a few years.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Min Ping said Dewi had committed the offence with deliberation and tried to cover her tracks.
For her offence, Dewi could have been jailed for life and fined.