An Indonesian maid kicked the thigh of her employers' 23-month- old daughter for refusing to finish her food, and slapped the back of their baby boy when he started crying while feeding him.
This was captured on closed-circuit TV, which her employer installed at home after the 29-year- old noticed scratch marks on his daughter's arms last May, after the maid started working for the family.
Yesterday, Khaerun Nisa Selfitriya, 28, was sentenced to four months in jail for ill-treating the children in a flat in Woodlands on Oct 14 last year.
A district court heard that on that day, Khaerun Nisa was feeding the children when the girl refused to finish her food. When she told the girl to finish her food, the toddler vomited and started to cry.
Khaerun Nisa then kicked her on the left thigh forcefully, causing her to fall and hit her head.
Further investigation showed that about 10 minutes earlier, she was feeding the eight-month-old baby when he started crying. She shouted "No!'' and slapped his back several times.
Both incidents were captured on CCTV. The children's father lodged a police report the next day.
When questioned about her relationship with her employers, Khaerun Nisa told the police that she had been treated well, and was even taken to China for a holiday.
But her lawyer, Mr Nasser Ismail, said the maid, who has four daughters aged three to 11, was derided by her employers for no reason and became paranoid and depressed.
He said she was "depressed, scared and confused'' at the time of the offence and missed her children, especially the three-year-old, as she had not had any news from them since she started work.
"The accused admitted that she had reached a breaking point when she lost her mind on that fateful day,'' he said.
Mr Nasser further told the court his client had never intended to harm the children and had not harmed them.
He said that the baby boy was choking on his food, so she used her left hand to "slap'' him on the back a few times.
Khaerun Nisa, whose sentence was backdated to Oct 16, could have been fined up to $4,000 and jailed for up to four years on each charge.
The children's father, who has hired a new maid for the family, told The Straits Times yesterday: "Of course, I want justice to be served, but I don't want to dwell on her sentence. It doesn't matter how long she is sentenced for. As long as my kids are fine, that is all that matters.
"I will let go of this case and move on. My kids are also much better emotionally. They are not traumatised and they are very happy now."
- Additional reporting by Lim Yi Han