Jail for maid whose negligence caused a toothbrush to be stuck in boy's throat

The boy was rushed to hospital where a pair of strong forceps had to be used to remove the toothbrush from his oesophagus.
The boy was rushed to hospital where a pair of strong forceps had to be used to remove the toothbrush from his oesophagus.PHOTO: PEXELS

SINGAPORE - A maid was brushing the teeth of her employer's two-year-old son on Dec 27 last year when she momentarily turned away, leaving the toothbrush in his mouth.

The child-size toothbrush that was 15cm long somehow became lodged in the boy's throat moments later, causing him to cry out in pain, and he also vomited blood.

He was rushed to hospital where a pair of strong forceps had to be used to remove the toothbrush from his oesophagus.

The child, who suffered wounds to the back of his throat and oesophagus, was warded until Dec 31 that year.

The maid, Myanmar national Chi Nar Paw Tan, now 24, was sentenced on Tuesday (March 9) to eight weeks' jail after pleading guilty to causing hurt to the child by performing a negligent act. He cannot be named due to a gag order to protect his identity.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Ong said that the maid had been working at her employer's Ang Mo Kio flat for about four years before the incident took place.

The court heard that she told investigators that the family had treated her well.

On the day of the incident, Chi Nar Paw Tan was bathing the victim when she decided to brush his teeth.

The DPP said: "The accused soaped the victim's body with her right hand and held the victim's toothbrush with her left hand.

"The accused then turned her back on the victim and left the victim unattended to find the shower head. In doing so, the accused left the loose toothbrush in the victim's mouth."

She suddenly heard a shout and when she turned around, she saw the toothbrush lodged in the boy's mouth. DPP Ong said that the victim was "gagging and choking" on the toothbrush.

The boy's mother rushed to the bathroom and saw him bleeding from his mouth.

The maid initially told her that the blood was from the boy's teeth. When pressed, she revealed that the toothbrush was stuck inside the boy's mouth.

The mother called for an ambulance and the boy was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Medical personnel there, however, did not attempt to remove the toothbrush, as they did not have the necessary equipment to do so.

The boy was then taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital where the toothbrush was successfully removed from his oesophagus.

The court heard that Chi Nar Paw Tan was arrested later that night.

For causing hurt to a child below 14 years old by performing a negligent act, an offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $5,000.