Man who beat up maid and brother-in-law after feeling slighted jailed 15 weeks

At one point, the man punched the domestic helper in the head so hard it jerked backwards and hit a cupboard's glass panel, breaking it. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - When his mother complained that their maid was disrespectful, Benjamin Putra Chumali kicked and punched the 32-year-old Philippine national so hard, her head hit a cupboard glass panel and shattered it.

Madam Muriah Arshad, 63, was so afraid for Ms Fabre Jeizel Cabelte that she had to use her body to shield the domestic worker from further assault by her 33-year-old son. But it did not end there.

When his sister arrived at the flat in Jurong West soon after with her husband, Benjamin accused his brother-in-law of being rude for not shaking hands with him. He then punched and headbutted his brother-in-law. All this happened on Nov 21 last year.

Benjamin, who had pleaded guilty in October to two counts of assault, was on Thursday (Nov 14) sentenced to 15 weeks in jail.

His sister and her husband had turned up at the flat after Madam Muriah told them about the assault. She lives there with Benjamin.

The sister, who is the maid's employer, had to call the police after Benjamin hit her husband.

The court heard on Thursday that the sister later submitted two letters requesting that the charges to be dropped. However, this was rejected by the prosecution.

In sentencing him, District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam asked Benjamin if he had anything to say in mitigation for his behaviour but he declined to say anything.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong told the court that Benjamin had voluntarily made compensation of $1,000 to Ms Cabelte. He also gave $553.60 for her medical expenses.

Madam Muriah, who was present in court, broke into tears as she asked for the sentence to start on Nov 28 instead. She had an appointment to see the cardiologist and wanted him with her, she said.

"Madam, I understand your pain and I'm going to grant your request," said Judge Ng.

Addressing Benjamin, the judge stressed that he has to surrender in court on that date or his mother may lose the $5,000 bail amount.

For voluntarily causing hurt, Benjamin could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story wrongly stated Benjamin's jail sentence as 15 months instead of 15 weeks. This has been corrected. We are sorry for the error.

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