Maid convicted of lesser murder charge for killing employer; prosecutors not seeking death penalty

Daryati did not contest the lesser charge and was convicted on the evidence presented at trial. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An Indonesian domestic worker who killed her employer in her Telok Kurau house in 2016, leaving the 59-year-old victim with more than 90 knife wounds, is set to avoid the death penalty.

On Monday (April 6), Daryati, 27, was found guilty of a lesser murder charge, with prosecutors telling the High Court that they are not seeking the death sentence.

Daryati was originally on trial for murdering Madam Seow Kim Choo under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty.

The trial was heard for 17 days between April 23 last year and March 4 this year, and the prosecution has yet to close its case.

On Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Kok Weng told the court that after reconsidering the matter, the prosecution was proceeding on an amended charge under Section 300(c), which carries life imprisonment or the death sentence.

Daryati did not contest the lesser charge and was convicted on the evidence presented at trial.

A second charge of attempting to murder Madam Seow's husband, Mr Ong Thiam Soon, then 57, will be considered in sentencing.

The case was adjourned for defence counsel Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed to prepare a mitigation plea after he noted that the court has the discretion to impose the death penalty in spite of the prosecution's stance on the sentence.

Daryati started working for Madam Seow and her family on April 13, 2016.

Madam Seow lived in a three-storey house with her husband, two adult sons, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

Daryati admitted in court that the family treated her well, but she soon became homesick and was filled with longing for her lover, who was working in Hong Kong.

She hatched a plan to confront Madam Seow to get back her passport, which was kept in a safe, and to steal money from a locked drawer so that she could return to Indonesia.

A translated entry on May 12, 2016 from her diary read: "I must carry out this plan quickly. I have to be brave even though life is at stake. I am ready to face all risks/consequences, whatever the risk, I must be ready to accept it. I hope that this plan succeed and run smoothly.

"My employer's family is my target


She also drew a map of the house, plotting the path she would take to get her passport and her escape route.

She then hid weapons on the second floor , including a kukri knife in a walk-in wardrobe, a hammer in a study table, and a short knife under a toilet sink.

On June 7, she carried out her plan after she saw Madam Seow's brother counting cash on the first floor.

At about 8.30pm, hiding a knife in her clothes, Daryati went up to the master bedroom with a pair of pants she had ironed for Madam Seow.

After handing Madam Seow the pants, Daryati pointed the knife at her employer's neck and demanded her passport back.

When Madam Seow started shouting, Daryati dragged her employer to the toilet, closed the door and repeatedly slashed and stabbed her in the neck, head and face until the older woman collapsed.

By this time, Mr Ong had entered the master bedroom and called out for his wife. When Madam Seow did not respond, he used a screwdriver to open the toilet door.

When the door opened, Daryati, armed with two knives, stabbed Mr Ong just below the neck.

He got her to drop one knife but when he went to check on Madam Seow, Daryati stabbed him again with the other.

Mr Ong eventually restrained Daryati. He then took her out to the main gate, where three passers-by helped watch over her while he checked on Madam Seow.

Paramedics pronounced Madam Seow dead at about 9.05pm.

An autopsy found at least 94 stab wounds and cuts on her face, scalp, neck and arm.

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