Jailed for assaulting maid, brother-in-law

15 weeks for man angry with maid for being 'disrespectful', brother-in-law for being 'rude'

When his mother complained that their maid had been "disrespectful", Benjamin Putra Chumali kicked and punched the 32-year-old Philippine national so hard that her head hit a cupboard glass panel and shattered it.

Madam Muriah Arshad, 63, was so afraid for Ms Fabre Jeizel Cabelte that she used her body to shield the domestic worker from further assault by her 33-year-old son. But it did not end there.

When his sister arrived at the flat in Jurong West soon after with her husband, Benjamin accused his brother-in-law of being "rude" by not shaking hands with him. He then punched and headbutted his brother-in-law. All this happened on Nov 21 last year.

Benjamin, who pleaded guilty last month to two counts of assault, was yesterday sentenced to 15 weeks in jail.

Benjamin's sister, Ms Dewi Kartini Putri Chumali, 31, and her husband, Mr Muhammad Irfan Zakariah, 31, had gone to the flat after Madam Muriah, who lived with her son, told them about the assault.

Ms Dewi, who is the maid's employer, called the police after her husband was assaulted.

Ms Cabelte suffered bruises and some swelling on her head, and Mr Muhammad Irfan was left with a bloody lip.

The court heard yesterday that Ms Dewi later submitted two letters requesting the charges to be dropped, but this was rejected by the prosecution.

In sentencing him, District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam asked Benjamin if he had anything to say in mitigation for his behaviour, but he declined.


Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong told the court that Benjamin had voluntarily made compensation of $1,000 to Ms Cabelte. He also gave $553.60 for her medical expenses.

Madam Muriah, who was present in court, broke into tears as she asked for the sentence to start on Nov 28 instead. She had an appointment to see the cardiologist and wanted her son with her, she said.

"Madam, I understand your pain and I'm going to grant your request," said Judge Ng.

Addressing Benjamin, the judge stressed that he has to surrender in court on that date or his mother may lose the $5,000 bail amount.

For voluntarily causing hurt, Benjamin could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story wrongly stated Benjamin's jail sentence as 15 months instead of 15 weeks. This has been corrected. We are sorry for the error.  

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2019, with the headline 'Jailed for assaulting maid, brother-in-law'. Print Edition | Subscribe