High Court dismisses appeal by couple convicted of assaulting domestic helper

Farha Tehseen was sentenced to one year and nine months' jail, while her husband Mohammad Tasleem was given four months. PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A couple, who assaulted their domestic helper on multiple occasions over a two-month period before she escaped by climbing out of a window, had their appeal against conviction dismissed on Friday (July 16).

Farha Tehseen, 40, was sentenced to one year and nine months' jail last year, while her husband Mohammad Tasleem, 42, was given four months.

They were convicted of multiple charges of causing hurt to their helper, Ms Amandeep Kaur, aged 27 at the time of the offences in 2016, after a trial in the State Courts.

Farha was also found guilty of one count of criminal intimidation.

Farha and her husband are Singapore permanent residents, while Ms Kaur is an Indian national.

On Friday, High Court Justice Kannan Ramesh held that Ms Kaur's testimony during the trial corroborated with other evidence of her abuse, including medical reports.

He also said the couple's explanations about the injuries "fly in the face of the medical evidence", noting that the doctors who testified during the trial also did not accept their accounts.

The judge did not accept the couple's arguments - through their lawyer Rajwin Singh Sandhu - that, among other things, the trial judge wrongfully believed Ms Kaur's version of events and treated the inconsistencies in her testimony as immaterial.

Justice Ramesh noted the couple's intention to accept their sentences if their appeal was unsuccessful. He allowed Farha to defer her sentence until Nov 1 - when Tasleem is likely to have already been released from prison - so that at least one of them can take care of their two sons, one of whom is autistic.

Tasleem will start his jail term on July 19.

Ms Kaur worked for the couple between Nov 9 and Dec 31, 2016.

During the trial, she testified that Farha treated her "very badly" from the outset, beating her twice on her first day of work.

The housewife went on to assault her with objects, including a broom, a shower head, a rolling pin and a pair of tongs.

Tasleem physically abused Ms Kaur for the first time in mid-December 2016, as he felt that she was slow in preparing milk for his younger son, who was then two years old. He punched her right eye once.

He assaulted her again days later by kicking her waist twice. He did not say anything to her before or after he committed the offence.

On Dec 31 that year, Farha kicked Ms Kaur's lower back twice before she grabbed her hair and pulled her out of a room.

Ms Kaur was also punched once in her nose and it bled.

The court heard that Farha later hit her with a stick and slapped her multiple times.

She then told Ms Kaur to complete the household chores in five minutes, threatening to beat her and throw her out of the window if she failed to do so.

Soon after, the couple and their children left their fourth-floor flat in a Housing Board block in Rivervale Crescent, Sengkang, locking the front door.

Ms Kaur, who did not have the house keys, climbed out of a living room window and perched herself on a ledge.

A worker, who was doing some painting works in the estate, spotted her and used a gondola to rescue her.

Ms Kaur was placed in the care of the Good Shepherd Centre, which provides shelter for people such as abused women.

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