Maid jailed for putting tranquilliser in breakfast of employer's family

SINGAPORE - A maid who feared she was about to be scolded slipped a tranquilliser into the breakfast of her employer's wife and daughter in the hope they would "calm down", a court heard.

Indian national Gurpreet Kaur, 31, got hold of a risperidone pill - which had been prescribed to her 74-year-old employer to treat his bipolar disorder - and put it in the women's oatmeal, leaving them "temporarily impaired".

On Wednesday (July 4), Kaur was jailed for eight months after pleading guilty in court to one count each of administering and attempting to administer risperidone to her employer's Singaporean wife, Madam Chander Kanta Harbans Lal, 72.

One count of administering the drug to Madam Chander's daughter, Ms Anita Kumari Premnath, 47, was considered during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Esther Wong said risperidone is a tranquilliser used to treat schizophrenia and moderate to severe manic episodes associated with bipolar disorders. She added that it is also a stupefying drug known to induce drowsiness.

The court heard that Mr Premnath Shivadial, a Singaporean, hired Kaur in January last year to cook and do chores at their Ghim Moh flat.

Kaur had found out about the effects of risperidone after talking to Madam Chander, and decided to use it on her and her daughter in May last year.

DPP Wong said: "They had felt drowsy and lethargic after consuming breakfast that the accused had cooked... They were thereby temporarily impaired."

Kaur's offences came to light later when Ms Anita spotted her placing additional items into a pot of oats. She approached the maid and saw two tablets inside.

DPP Wong told District Judge Kessler Soh: "She confronted the accused, who said that the tablets were oats. The accused then poured the contents of the pot into a sink and washed the pot."

Ms Anita told her family members about the incident, and her niece alerted the police. Medical tests found traces of risperidone in the women's blood and urine.

DPP Wong called on Judge Soh to jail Kaur for nine months, saying that she targeted a vulnerable victim in her own home.

Kaur's lawyer, Mr Daniel Chen, who was assigned to the case under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, pleaded for a lighter sentence and told the court that the only harm caused to Madam Chander was lethargy.

Judge Soh told Kaur: "What you did was very wrong and could potentially cause serious harm."