Jail for maid who mixed detergent into infant's milk powder

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 household chores.

The older woman was sentenced yesterday 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 there was no evidence the Indonesian 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. 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 Indonesian 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 on Aug 29 this year stated that when exposed to detergents, children below the age of six can experience effects such as vomiting and choking. Exposure to detergents may also cause 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.

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

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2019, with the headline Jail for maid who mixed detergent into infant's milk powder. Subscribe