3 years' jail for maid who mixed detergent into infant's milk powder

SINGAPORE - A maid purposely mixed detergent into an infant's milk powder as she wanted to get another domestic helper in trouble.

The 29-year-old Indonesian committed the offence as she was jealous of the other maid who was working for her boss' sister-in-law.

The offender felt that the 25-year-old Myanmar national needed only to take care of the baby, while she had to do all the household chores.

The older woman was sentenced on Friday (Sept 20) to three years' jail after pleading guilty to attempting to cause the three-month-old girl to consume a mixture of milk powder and detergent.

She cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the child's identity.

The baby did not consume any of the tainted milk and the court heard that there was no evidence that the Indonesian maid had been abused or ill-treated.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yang said the maid started working for the baby's uncle in April 2015.

On certain occasions, the man, his sister-in-law and their family members would stay together in a house that his parents own.

The two maids would also come along to the house near Hougang Avenue 1, the court heard.

Consumed by her jealousy of the other helper, the Indonesian maid mixed detergent into the baby's milk powder on Sept 6 last year.

The next day, when the child's mother used the contaminated mixture to make milk, she spotted some black and pink particles at the bottom of the baby's milk bottle.

The DPP said: "(The mother) put the first milk bottle aside, used another milk bottle to make milk using the contaminated milk powder, and this time she noticed blue particles in the milk bottle."

When she opened the tin containing the contaminated milk powder, she detected a smell from it similar to that of detergent.

Sensing something amiss, she used breast milk to feed her baby instead.

The next day on Sept 8, the maid's boss alerted the police about the contaminated milk powder and told the officers he thought the maid was the only suspect.

DPP Zhou said a Health Sciences Authority report dated Aug 29 this year stated that when exposed to detergents, children below age six can experience effects such as vomiting and choking.

Exposure to detergents may also cause mild and moderate effects such as diarrhoea, to severe ones such as caustic injury to the gastrointestinal tract.

District Judge Prem Raj said the case involved an innocent and defenceless baby, adding that the maid had "no qualms" using an infant "as a tool to create problems" for another maid.

The Indonesian woman, who was unrepresented, pleaded for leniency.

For committing the offence, she could have been jailed for up to five years and fined.

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