Maid jailed for hurting elderly woman with dementia who insisted on going out at night

SINGAPORE - When an elderly woman she was looking after insisted on leaving her flat at night, a maid grabbed the woman by her face, leaving her with bruises.

Yati, who goes by one name, was sentenced to 14 weeks’ jail on Thursday after pleading guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt to a vulnerable person.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Santhra Aiyyasamy said Yati, 38, had been looking after 81-year-old Leong Bee Hap, who has Alzheimer’s disease with symptoms of dementia, since Dec 25, 2021.

On Oct 3, 2022, when Madam Leong insisted on going out of the flat at night, Yati told her it was too dark to do so and took her out of the master bedroom to show her how late it was.

But the elderly woman was insistent.

Yati used her hands to hold Madam Leong’s cheeks. She also pressed on the elderly woman’s chin, attempting to calm her.

The maid said she was unable to control her emotions at the time and attributed this to a headache.

Said DPP Santhra: “She stated that she may have used her fingers to ‘press too hard’ against the chin of the victim.”

Yati then rubbed Madam Leong’s face a few times, but she lost control of her emotions again and used her right hand to “tap” the victim’s face a few times.

The maid then left Madam Leong in the master bedroom after switching off the lights and closing the door.

The next morning, whenYati saw bruises on her charge’s face, she tried to treat them with warm water.

But the bruises were still visible the following day. So Yati called Madam Leong’s son and lied to him that the elderly woman had had a fall.

Madam Leong was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where a doctor noticed extensive bruising on her, among other injuries.

On reviewing closed-circuit television footage from cameras installed at the home, the son saw Yati stopping Madam Leong from leaving the master bedroom.

The pair could be heard arguing before Madam Leong screamed a few times.

Interviewed by the police, Yati admitted to what she did.

The police could not interview or record a statement from Madam Leong due to her medical condition, said DPP Santhra.

The prosecutor asked for Yati to be jailed for at least 14 weeks, noting Madam Leong’s injuries and adding that the elderly woman was vulnerable due to her physical and mental conditions, and that there was a blatant abuse of trust and authority.

Said the DPP: “The victim, together with her family members, were squarely dependent on the accused to look after the victim and assist her to carry out her daily activities. The victim thus squarely fell within the class of victims who are considered more vulnerable and susceptible to abuse and violence.”

Yati, who was not represented, told the court that she was remorseful and hoped for a light sentence so that she could return home as soon as possible.

For each count of voluntarily causing hurt, an offender can be jailed for three years, fined $5,000, or both. The maximum sentence can be doubled for crimes against vulnerable victims.

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