PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A couple from Penang who were facing the gallows for starving their maid to death escaped with a 10-year jail term each when the Federal Court of Malaysia convicted them of a lesser charge on Thursday (Jan 25).
Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif sentenced store owner Soh Chew Tong and his wife Chin Chui Ling to the jail term for committing culpable homicide, instead of murder.
Soh and Chin were previously convicted of murdering their Cambodian maid Mey Sichan, 24, at their home in Taman Asas Murni, Jalan Bukit Minyak in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, between Jan 1 and April 1, 2012.
The maid, who started working with the couple in July 2011, was found dead at the couple's shophouse with fresh injuries on her body and severely dehydrated.
She had sunken cheeks and eye-sockets, and weighed only 26.1kg at the time of her death.
On Thursday, clad in white and red prison clothes, Soh, 48, and Chin, 45, looked stunned upon hearing the verdict delivered by a panel of five judges led by Md Raus.
As soon as the panel adjourned the proceedings, Chin burst into tears and immediately hugged her mother and a family member, before both she and Soh were taken to the court lockup.
In May 2013, the couple were sentenced to 24 years' jail each by the Sessions Court in Penang on a reduced charge of committing culpable homicide. But in Oct 2015, they were sentenced to death after the Court of Appeal restored their conviction to the original murder charge.
Defence lawyer Gopal Sri Ram urged the court to impose a lesser sentence, saying the couple had shown remorse.
Meanwhile, Deputy Public Prosecutor Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud said the incident occurred over a period of time and a message should be sent to the public as it involved cruelty to a maid.
The couple's other lawyer K. Kumaraendran said his clients have been in custody for almost three years. With a one-third remission for good behaviour, the couple would only serve four-and-a-half years in jail.