Woman accused of abusing two maids allegedly pinched one of her victims while unhappy with massage

Tan Lee Hoon is facing eight counts of voluntarily causing hurt to two Filipino domestic helpers.
Tan Lee Hoon is facing eight counts of voluntarily causing hurt to two Filipino domestic helpers.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - One of the two maids allegedly abused by their employer's wife in her Sentosa Cove home had to massage the woman before she slept, and was purportedly pinched by her when she was unhappy with the massage.

Tan Lee Hoon, 56, is in court for five counts of voluntarily causing hurt to Ms Jenefer Vegafria Arangote, 39, and another three charges involving Ms Joan Lozares Lizardo, 33. Both are Filipino nationals.

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

On Wednesday (Dec 9), the second day of the trial, Ms Arangote told the court that she worked irregular hours at Tan's house.

At times, she slept at 1pm or 2pm and woke up later at 5pm or 6pm before working through the night, the court heard.

Part of her duties involved massaging Tan before the woman slept, which was also at irregular timings.

Tan had multiple medical conditions and had difficulty sleeping, according to Mr Sudheesan.

Ms Arangote said that it was during two occasions when she was giving massages that Tan pinched her - twice in the arm on one instance and twice in the chest on another - which caused bruises.

She said that Tan was unhappy with the massage in those instances, but disagreed with Mr Sudheesan's suggestion that his client was demonstrating massage techniques which she misinterpreted as pinches.

This was even as she agreed with the defence lawyer that Tan had liked hard massages and had previously shown the maids how to massage her.

Ms Arangote also recalled two other instances when Tan pinched her, including an incident where she had accidentally knocked down a statue outside the house.

She took photographs of her injuries using her mobile phone, and sent them to a friend and her boyfriend then.

Ms Arangote, who was hazy on the dates of all the incidents she testified to in court, said that her mobile phone was confiscated by Tan after the latter had another maid, a Myanmar national known as Emily, sent home.

The court also heard that she witnessed Tan abusing Ms Lizardo in three instances.

Tan had hit Ms Lizardo on the head while the latter was helping her put on her socks and later kicked the maid in the chest when wearing her shoes, said Ms Arangote.

On another occasion, Tan struck Ms Lizardo with a stick while both maids were in the kitchen, she added.

Tan's trial is expected to resume on Thursday.

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

Tan's husband Sim Guan Huat, who owns a company dealing in vehicle tyres and batteries, and is a director in three other firms, is facing charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

Among other things, the 59-year-old is accused of employing Ms Lizardo without a valid work pass from Oct 23, 2015 to Dec 1, 2016.

His case is also expected to be heard in court on Thursday.