A maid, angry that her employer's teenage son had scratched her face, poured hot oil from a frying pan onto him.
It all started when Indonesian Sugianti, 34, who goes by one name, scolded the 14-year-old boy for spilling liquids on the floor. She claimed this had caused his 17-year-old sister to slip and fall two days earlier.
Annoyed, the boy toppled over a shelf holding Sugianti's personal effects in the bedroom they shared in a Bukit Panjang flat on Feb 15.
The two had a shouting match.
Afraid that the maid would complain to his father about his behaviour, the boy put back her personal effects in the bedroom.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En said Sugianti had been frying chicken wings in the kitchen at around 8am that day when she continued to scold the victim. The boy reacted by covering her mouth from behind and pulling her hair to stop her from scolding him further.
Shocked, Sugianti shook the frying pan a few times at him and called him a "devil's son". He scratched her face and left.
When Sugianti saw the scratch mark, she picked up the frying pan half-filled with heated oil, and approached the boy who was then in the toilet. When she challenged him to a fight, he shouted at her to go away. Fuming, Sugianti lifted the frying pan and poured the hot oil onto his arm and leg.
The boy was taken to a polyclinic the next day when his injuries did not improve. He was treated for burns on his lower limb and right forearm, and has since recovered.
A police report was made.
A day later, on Feb 17, Sugianti was treated at Changi General Hospital for soreness on the back of her head and a "claw mark" under her right eye.
Yesterday, she was sentenced to one year's jail by District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim for causing hurt to the boy. The judge agreed there were aggravating factors in the case. She told Sugianti that if she had had any issues with the victim, she should have taken these up with his father. She said a deterrent sentence was required, noting a certain amount of malice and intention on the maid's part.
Pleading for leniency, Sugianti's lawyer Nasser Ismail said his client, a divorcee with a 10-year-old daughter, had been working for the household since October last year, taking care of the boy and his two sisters, as well as their ailing grandmother.
He said Sugianti suffered a lot of verbal abuse from the boy, who has a violent temperament and is much bigger in size than she is.
He added that Sugianti noticed a marked change in the victim's behaviour several months into her job. The boy became rebellious and ill-tempered, and scuffled with his mother, an Indonesian, who is estranged from the teenager's father and lives in Batam.
Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday evening at his family's three-room flat, the boy, who is now 15, recounted the incident and said he had lost his temper when the maid shouted at him.
"I grabbed her face and scratched her accidentally... But she also shouldn't have splashed the hot oil on me."
The boy, who cannot be named because of a gag order, said he had a cordial relationship with the maid. They argued occasionally, but things had never got violent until the incident.
His eldest sister, a 27-year-old project controller, said: "My brother is also getting counselling to make sure he isn't traumatised by the incident, and hopefully as he grows older, he will learn to manage his anger."
Sugianti, whose sentence was backdated to Oct 5, could have been jailed for up to seven years and/or fined for the offence.
• Additional reporting by Tan Tam Mei