Woman jailed 15 months for assaulting maid; sentence downgraded on compassionate grounds

Jenny Chan Yun Hui had pleaded guilty to three assault charges, including one count of causing grievous hurt, earlier this year in February. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A woman who abused her Indonesian domestic helper, including breaking her nose and using a plastic bowl to hit her head, was sentenced to 15 months' jail on Tuesday (Nov 19).

Jenny Chan Yun Hui, 42, began sobbing in the dock as District Judge Eddy Tham meted out the sentence, which he said had been downgraded on compassionate grounds as she has major depressive disorder.

In his oral grounds, the judge acknowledged that Chan was going through a "stressful time" during the period of the offences, which started about two months after Ms Rasi, who goes by one name, started working for her in February 2016.

Chan's depression meant that she had less control of her emotions, contributing to the offences committed, said the judge.

However, this could not excuse Chan's physical abuse of Ms Rasi, who would have suffered psychological harm as a result of the physical abuse and isolation under the hands of her employer, he added.

Chan, who is married with children, had pleaded guilty to three assault charges, including one count of causing grievous hurt, earlier this year in February.

Ms Rasi was required to wake up at 6am to do household chores, and was given a strict schedule of tasks to follow.

Chan would monitor Ms Rasi through multiple closed-circuit television cameras that were installed throughout the unit.

As she did not have enough rest, Ms Rasi often nodded off while performing her chores, causing Chan to be angry and scold her.

In April that year, Chan began physically abusing Ms Rasi.

On one occasion, Chan was upset that Ms Rasi had not finished her morning chores and punched her in the eye. While the domestic worker was cleaning the kitchen floor, Chan hit her back, and used a plastic bowl to hit her head, causing it to bleed.

Chan then rinsed off the blood using a shower head and applied medicated oil on Ms Rasi's head, but did not take her to see a doctor.

In another instance, Chan punched Ms Rasi's nose several times as she was angry that the domestic worker had woken up late, and did not stop even when Ms Rasi told Chan that she was unable to breathe through her nose.

Ms Rasi suffered a broken nose, but Chan did not take her to see a doctor.

When Ms Rasi said she wanted to stop working for the household, Chan told her that if she ran away, she would alert the police and Ms Rasi would be jailed for 20 years.

Later that day, Chan pinched Ms Rasi's ears with her fingernails, drawing blood, and punched her eyes multiple times until she could not see with her left eye for around 30 minutes as it was swollen.

About three months later, on June 19, 2016, Ms Rasi confided in another maid who advised her to take a taxi to the Indonesian Embassy to seek help.

She did so the next day and was later taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she was hospitalised until June 22 that year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.