Jail for maid abuser who had been recommended to undergo mandatory treatment order

Wang Xiaohui was also ordered to pay the victim compensation of $2,000.
Wang Xiaohui was also ordered to pay the victim compensation of $2,000.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A woman who used four hangers - one after another - to hit her domestic helper until they broke was on Tuesday (Sept 28) sentenced to seven weeks' jail despite being recommended to undergo a mandatory treatment order (MTO).

Offenders given an MTO will undergo treatment for their mental conditions in lieu of jail time.

A report from the Institute of Mental Health stated that music teacher Wang Xiaohui, now 35, had major depressive disorder, which resulted in her having difficulty exercising self-control over her actions to a moderate extent.

Defence lawyer Cory Wong told the court that Wang has been dutifully following up with her private psychiatrist since late last year. The lawyer from Invictus Law Corporation also said an MTO would benefit the mother of two toddlers.

District Judge May Mesenas, however, sentenced Wang to jail, citing as one of the reasons that Wang's mental condition had not substantially impaired her self-control.

She also ordered Wang to pay the victim, Ms Ngo Sabal, 25, compensation of $2,000.

Wang had earlier pleaded guilty to an assault charge. Three other similar charges were considered during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Janice See had said in her submissions: "The accused lashed out physically on impulse against the victim, having lost her temper at various minor transgressions by the victim while she was performing her household chores.

"The assault on the victim has adversely impacted the victim such that she no longer wishes to work in Singapore."

The court heard that it was Ms Ngo Sabal's first time working here.

The Myanmar national was employed on March 30, 2019, and her chores included taking care of Wang's two young children in their Ang Mo Kio flat.

Wang, who had chickenpox on July 16 that year, had told the maid to wash and dry Wang's clothes by hand to avoid "contaminating" garments belonging to her other family members.

Ms Ngo Sabal misunderstood the instructions. Instead, she washed Wang's clothes by hand but dried them with her family members' garments in a washing machine.

Wang scolded the maid when she found out what had happened and told her to remove the clothes from the machine.

Later that day, Wang told the maid to wash her dishes separately.

The DPP had said: "The victim proceeded to wash the dishes but used the same sponge for both the accused's and the family's dishes. This angered the accused, who picked up a plastic hanger and used it to hit the victim's left arm and back several times till the hanger broke.

"The accused picked up another plastic hanger, and continued beating the victim on her left arm and back till the hanger broke. The accused then picked up a third plastic hanger, and continued beating the victim till the hanger broke."

After that, Wang picked up a fourth hanger made of wood and used it to strike Ms Ngo Sabal's left arm, back, right thigh and head several times. The beating stopped only when the wooden hanger broke as well.

Wang then told the maid to throw the broken hangers down a rubbish chute.

Despite Ms Ngo Sabal suffering extensive bruising from the beatings, Wang did not take her to seek medical attention.

The Myanmar national was at a nearby playground two days later when she approached a 40-year-old woman for help.

Ms Ngo Sabal showed the woman her injuries and said Wang had attacked her.

The other woman took some pictures of the bruises and alerted the police. Officers arrived at Wang's home soon after, and Ms Ngo Sabal was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Wang's bail was set at $15,000 on Tuesday and she was ordered to surrender herself at the State Courts on Oct 26 to begin serving her jail term.