SINGAPORE - An army warrant officer repeatedly abused her maid in 2012, and once, even hit the latter with a plastic hanger until it broke.
When a policeman later attended to the case, K. Rajakumari, 57, who has since retired after 35 years of service, apologised to Indian national Sargunam Jeeva in Tamil and told her not to tell anyone about her ordeal.
But the police officer understood the language and Rajakumari was caught.
Rajakumari was sentenced to four months and three weeks' jail on Monday (Nov 20).
After a 14-day trial, District Judge Imran Abdul Hamid convicted her on Sept 5 last year of five counts of causing hurt to Ms Jeeva, then 35, in a Canberra Drive condominium near Sembawang Road between February and March 2012.
Ms Jeeva first came to Singapore in late January 2012.
Rajakumari had picked the maid up and checked her belongings. She also removed a Ministry of Manpower pamphlet and other materials with contact details that the Indian national had written down.
Ms Jeeva was to be paid $350 a month without any days off. She had studied up to only the eighth grade and could not speak English.
By the second week of February 2012, Rajakumari would scold her regularly with caustic remarks. But the abuse soon became physical.
On the night of March 3, 2012, after Ms Jeeva ironed Rajakumari's uniform, the employer threw it onto a dresser and chided the maid for not knowing how to do a proper job of ironing.
Rajakumari then hit Ms Jeeva on her left upper arm with a plastic hanger until it broke.
Two days later, Rajakumari told Ms Jeeva to heat up some briyani from the previous day.
But the food had gone bad and the maid was scolded and slapped hard on the face.
Rajakumari then pulled Ms Jeeva by her hair and pushed her against some window grilles, causing her face to hit the grilles. The maid fell, and, as she tried to get back up, Rajakumari kicked her waist.
Ms Jeeva told the employer: "(I) cannot withstand this torture any more... Please send me back to the agent's house."
But Rajakumari told her this was not possible.
That night, Ms Jeeva gestured to a maid in a neighbouring home for help and the latter called the police.
A policeman later heard Rajakumari tell Ms Jeeva in Tamil: "Please forgive me, I won't do this any more, please don't tell anyone about the abuse."
Unknown to Rajakumari, the officer could speak the language. Rajakumari later admitted to him that she had hit Ms Jeeva.
Rajakumari's lawyer, Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, had earlier asked the judge to sentence his client to probation, stressing that she has had three hip replacements.
For each count of maid abuse, she could have been jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500.