A man who hurt his Indonesian maid escaped jail time and was given a two-year treatment order to get psychiatric help yesterday.
Ng Tong Kok, 59, a part-time cleaner, was suffering from major depressive disorder when he hit the 33-year-old woman with a walking stick, and punched and kicked her.
While the prosecution had asked for three to four weeks' jail, the court gave Ng a mandatory treatment order (MTO), a community sentencing option for offenders suffering from mental conditions which contributed to the committing of an offence.
The assault happened on Feb 23 last year, when the maid, Warda - who goes by one name - was taking care of Ng's 83-year-old mother.
Ng scolded the worker for not buying beehoon for breakfast before hitting her on the head with a walking stick. He later punched her in the face and kicked her buttocks and groin area.
Warda shouted for help, running from the kitchen to the living room, before running out of the Henderson Crescent flat. She sought help from another maid living in the unit opposite Ng's home, and called the police from there.
In mitigation documents submitted to the court, Ng's lawyer, Ms Chong Yi Mei, said Ng's condition had diminished his ability to control his emotions. In a medical report, an Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist said Ng's disorder likely started in 2012, when his wife died.
Ms Chong pointed out that Warda had been hired to look after Ng's mother but did not have much experience looking after elderly people.
She added that Warda would give Ng's mother the wrong medication and was not attentive to her needs. In asking for an MTO, she said that Warda's injuries were superficial and the attack was not premeditated.
District Judge Michelle Yap agreed, noting that Ng, who was living with his mother, appeared to be showing signs of "caregiver stress".
She said that while the way Ng "committed the assault was aggravating", an MTO was appropriate, given his psychiatric condition. She added that Ng was unlikely to reoffend since his mother had died.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh said the prosecution was considering an appeal.