SINGAPORE - A woman who applied foundation to her maid’s face to cover up bruises when the police came knocking was on Monday sentenced to 10 months and 10 weeks’ jail.
Deepakala Chandra Secharan, 38, was also ordered to give the domestic worker, Ms Eni Agustin, compensation of $4,000.
Defence lawyer Mohamed Baiross from IRB Law said both his client and the domestic helper suffered following the offences. He also described Deepakala as a good, contributing member of society.
Before handing down the sentence, District Judge Ow Yong Tuck Leong stressed that a clear signal had to be sent out that maid abuse cases will be firmly dealt with.
He had earlier convicted Deepakala of three counts of assault after a trial.
Ms Eni, whose nationality and age were not stated in court documents, started working at Deepakala’s flat in Woodlands on Dec 9, 2019, and was abused 16 days later, after she mixed up some cutlery while placing them in a kitchen drawer.
Deepakala became angry when she saw this and repeatedly poked the maid’s forehead with her index finger, causing a scratch, Deputy Public Prosecutors Yang Ziliang and Chong Ee Hsiun said in their submissions.
On April 23, 2020, she used a wooden clothes hanger to hit Ms Eni until it broke. The next day, she flew into a rage when the maid could not find masking tape.
“The accused then took a nearly depleted roll of masking tape... and hit the victim’s forehead with it,” the prosecutors said in earlier proceedings.
Deepakala also slapped Ms Eni several times on other occasions and hit her with a stick.
On April 25, 2020, Ms Eni was hanging laundry from the kitchen window when another maid in a lower unit saw her.
The other maid gestured to ask why Ms Eni had bruises on her face, and she replied by demonstrating that her employer had hit her.
The other maid called the Centre for Domestic Employees, which alerted the police. Officers arrived at Deepakala’s flat later that day.
When Deepakala realised the police were at her door, she took Ms Eni to a bathroom.
“The accused then brought an ice pack for the victim and instructed the victim to lie to the police about the origin of the injuries,” the DPPs said.
“The accused told the victim to tell the police the injuries were sustained by the victim when she underwent a traditional body-scratching treatment.”
Deepakala then applied make-up on Ms Eni’s face to cover up the bruises. As Ms Eni hid in the bathroom, Deepakala lied to the officers that the maid was with Deepakala’s parents in Yishun.
An officer asked Deepakala and her husband to make arrangements for the police to interview the maid at the parents’ home.
The couple then made their way to Yishun in a car, with the officers following them separately. Deepakala and her husband had Ms Eni with them.
They were at Block 403 Yishun Avenue 6 when a policeman saw heavy foundation on the maid’s face.
The bruises were visible after she wiped away the make-up.
The officers then took her to the Woodlands flat to pack her things, so that she could be moved to a safer place.
For each count of maid abuse, an offender can be jailed for up to four years and fined up to $10,000.