Trial begins for woman accused of abusing two maids in her Sentosa Cove home

Tan Lee Hoon is facing eight counts of voluntarily causing hurt to the Filipino nationals.
Tan Lee Hoon is facing eight counts of voluntarily causing hurt to the Filipino nationals.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A 56-year-old woman who lives in a multi-million-dollar property in Sentosa Cove is contesting claims that she abused two of her domestic helpers.

Tan Lee Hoon was in court on Tuesday (Dec 8) at the start of a trial in which she is facing eight counts of voluntarily causing hurt to the Filipino nationals.

Both victims were employed by Tan's husband, 59-year-old Sim Guan Huat, who is currently facing charges involving the illegal employment of foreign nationals, including one of the maids - Ms Joan Lozares Lizardo, 33.

Three of the charges Tan is facing involve Ms Lizardo, while the remaining five involve Ms Jenefer Vegafria Arangote , 39.

Tan allegedly pinched Ms Arangote in the stomach, arm, thigh and chest on various occasions in September 2018 in her home.

She is also said to have kicked Ms Lizardo in the chest and hit her head in October 2018, and also struck her torso with a stick in another instance that year.

Court documents state that Tan's alleged acts of abuse came to light after Ms Arangote's friend, another maid, called the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), which in turn informed the police on Oct 17, 2018.

Tan is represented by lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam of Quahe Woo & Palmer LLC.

Records by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority show that Sim is the owner of a company dealing with vehicle tyres and batteries, as well as a director in three other firms.

He is facing charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, according to court records.

Among other things, he is accused of employing Ms Lizardo without a valid work pass from Oct 23, 2015 to Dec 1, 2016.

He also allegedly conspired with another individual in 2015 to falsely state, in an application to the MOM for Ms Lizardo's work permit, that she was to be employed at another residence instead of his home.

Sim's case is expected to be heard in court on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Lynn Tan testified that she was among a group of police officers present at Tan's house on Oct 17, 2018.

She had spoken to the victims then, who claimed that they were abused by Tan at multiple locations in the home, said the officer.

The maids were taken to Alexandra Hospital where they were examined by doctors, but were not required to be warded.

ASP Tan said that although there were multiple closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in the home, there was no footage stored in the CCTV server, as it was missing its hard disk.

Tan's trial is expected to resume on Wednesday, with one of the victims taking the stand.

If found guilty, she can be jailed for up to three years, or fined up to $7,500, or both for each offence.