Maid on trial for murder of employer: Defence claims police statements not made voluntarily

Indonesian maid Daryati is accused of stabbing and slashing her employer Madam Seow Kim Choo at her Telok Kurau home on June 7, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The lawyer defending an Indonesian domestic worker accused of murdering her employer contended in court on Tuesday (Aug 13) that the maid was distressed when photographs of her left breast were taken by a male police officer.

Daryati, then 23, was also feeling giddy, nauseous and in pain from injuries to her hand.

She was in a state of "oppression" at the time and was therefore not fit to give a statement to the police that day, argued Mr Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed.

Daryati, who turns 27 on Wednesday, is on trial for stabbing and slashing Madam Seow Kim Choo on June 7, 2016, at her Telok Kurau home, leaving the 59-year-old woman with 98 knife wounds.

In statements to the police, Daryati admitted that she slit Madam Seow's neck and stabbed her face and neck multiple times.

The defence is arguing that seven of the nine statements, taken between June 8 and July 26, 2016, had not been given voluntarily and hence cannot be admitted as evidence.

An ancillary hearing, to determine the admissibility of the statements, began on Tuesday, starting with the first statement recorded while Daryati was in hospital.

She had suffered some injuries in the incident and was taken to Changi General Hospital on the same day as the killing.

The next day, forensic pathologist Cuthbert Teo was asked by the police to examine the injuries that Daryati sustained on her hands. Photographs were also taken to document the injuries.

Dr Teo testified that the maid consented to the examination and photography. He said he asked her if she had any other injuries on her body and sought her specific consent to undress her.

A police photographer took about 40 photographs of her injuries, including two of abrasions around her left breast.

Dr Teo said she did flinch while her wound dressing was removed, but did not cry or object to the examination. He told her repeatedly that he would stop if she was not comfortable, he added.

About an hour after the examination, a statement was taken from her by Assistant Superintendent Mahathir Mohamad.

ASP Mahathir, testifying in court, said the maid sobbed at times, but he checked with her that she was all right.

Superintendent Burhanudeen Haji Hussainar, who was also present, told the court she was alert and able to articulate her responses and pause for thought.

He said he did not think she had any objection to a male photographer.

When Mr Muzammil asked why there was no sensitivity to the gender of the suspect, Supt Burhanudeen said the initial intention was to take photographs just of her hand injuries.

He added that no statement would have been taken from her if she had said that she was not okay.

Correction note: This report has been edited for clarity.

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