Three years' jail for beauty salon manager who abused maid; husband in for six weeks

Linda Seah Lei Sie, 39, was sentenced to three years' jail and her husband, interior designer Lim Toon Leng, 44, was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Feb 11, 2019.
Linda Seah Lei Sie, 39, was sentenced to three years' jail and her husband, interior designer Lim Toon Leng, 44, was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Feb 11, 2019.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A beauty salon manager tormented her maid for months, forcing her to perform multiple acts of self-harm, including pouring scalding hot water on herself and drinking dirty water mixed with detergent.

Linda Seah Lei Sie, 39, was sentenced to three years' jail on Monday (Feb 11) after District Judge Olivia Low found her guilty of abusing Ms Phyu Phyu Mar following a 15-day trial.

The manager of Anew Me Beauty Aesthetic salon at The Centrepoint shopping mall in Orchard Road was also ordered to pay $11,800 in compensation to the maid.

Seah has to spend an additional six weeks behind bars if she is unable to pay the amount.

On Monday, Judge Low said: “Linda’s unhappiness with the victim’s work should not justify any form of violence against the victim... up till now, she still has a scar on her left shoulder and she would have to always wear a jacket to cover it up.”

The judge had on Jan 18 found Seah guilty of five assault charges and one count of causing the maid to drink the tainted water.

Seah's husband, interior designer Lim Toon Leng, 44, was sentenced to six weeks' jail after he was convicted of assaulting the maid.

He was ordered to pay $500 compensation.

The Singaporean couple, who have a five-year-old daughter, committed the offences in their Punggol Walk flat between August and October 2016.

The court heard that Ms Phyu Phyu Mar did not receive her monthly salary of $700 throughout her employment with her abusers.

Her weight also plummeted from 50kg to 38kg because of a lack of food.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Sarah Shi and Jotham Tay said in their submissions that Seah employed Ms Phyu Phyu Mar from February to October 2016.

The DPPs added that the maid received her full salary only in November that year when the Ministry of Manpower intervened.

The maid testified during the trial that Seah made her pour hot water on herself on two occasions - in August and September 2016 - because Seah was unhappy with her.

The employer had boiled some water in a kettle before asking the Myanmar national to pour some on her own left shoulder.

The maid complied.

The second incident took place after Seah became angry and accused the maid of being too slow in completing her chores.

 
 

The judge added: "Linda poured the hot water into a cup and threatened Phyu Phyu Mar by saying that if Phyu Phyu Mar did not do as Linda instructed, Linda would then pour the hot water on herself and inform the police that it was Phyu Phyu Mar who did it and Phyu Phyu Mar would be sent to jail."

The maid suffered scald marks and blisters on her skin when she complied. Instead of taking her to a doctor, Seah gave her a needle and told her to puncture the blisters herself.

Besides these incidents, Seah also ordered the maid to drink tainted water, made her hit her head against the floor, grabbed the Myanmar national's hair and used a mobile phone to repeatedly hit her.

On Oct 13, 2016, Lim punched Ms Phyu Phyu Mar's forehead twice after he wrongly assumed that she had thrown away his spectacles.

The court heard that the Myanmar national used to accompany Seah to her salon a few times a week. It was one of the salon's employees who alerted the police to the maid's plight.

Police went to the couple's flat on Oct 15, 2016, and Ms Phyu Phyu Mar was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital where she was warded for six days.

Seah intends to appeal against her conviction, sentence and compensation. Her bail has been set at $15,000.

Lim will be appealing against his conviction and sentence. His bail is $5,000.