A Depressed domestic helper tried to smother her employer's 16-year-old daughter with a pillow while she was asleep, then stabbed the teen with a kitchen knife before she strangled the girl with her own school pinafore.
Yesterday, Indonesian Tuti Aeliyah, 30, was jailed 12 years after she pleaded guilty to culpable homicide for killing Shameera Basha Noor Basha, a Secondary 4 student at Tanjong Katong Girls' School, on Nov 14, 2013.
The original charge of murder was reduced after she was found to be suffering from severe depression with psychotic symptoms.
She had paranoid delusions and heard voices - which significantly impaired her judgment at the time, an Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist found.
In sentencing, Justice Woo Bih Li said he sympathised with her because of her condition. But he added: "There is no running away from the fact that you killed an innocent youth of 16 years of age who was sleeping and who had done you no wrong."
The High Court heard yesterday that Tuti started working for the teen's family of four in April 2012. She was not abused or ill-treated by her employers.
Several months before the incident, the maid started behaving strangely. She lost weight and did not want to call home.
Two weeks before the incident, she had told a neighbour's maid that she wanted to commit suicide.
According to the defence, Tuti had tried to kill herself the night before the attack. The next morning, Shameera was still asleep after her parents and brother had left their Tampines flat.
The maid claimed that while she was in the toilet, a ghost in the mirror had told her to kill the teenager.
At 8am, she entered the teen's room with a kitchen knife. She first tried to smother her with a pillow.
When Shameera woke up and put up a struggle, the maid stabbed her a few times in the abdomen and chest.
Tuti then looped the teen's pinafore around her neck a few times and pulled both ends until the girl stopped moving.
The maid then drank half a capful of fabric softener, made superficial cuts on her wrist with a knife and tried to hang herself from a toilet pipe.
When the teen's mother came back at half past noon, Tuti told her that she had killed Shameera.
The mother sought help from a neighbour, who called the police.
An autopsy found that the cause of death was strangulation.
Tuti's lawyer, Mr Nasser Ismail, said that she was depressed over a miscarriage in 2011, which was aggravated by demands by her abusive husband for money.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Charlene Tay said this could not be confirmed.
After she was sentenced, Tuti said through an interpreter that she wanted to apologise to the teen's family.
This article was first published on May 26, 2015.
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