For eight minutes, an Indonesian maid continuously shoved her right hand into the mouth of a bedridden four-year-old boy.
Kusrini Caslan Arja, 37, did not stop when the boy's face turned purple. And she did not hold back even when her hand was smeared with blood from his mouth.
The horror of what happened to her employers' son on Nov 23 last year was captured on closed-circuit television (CCTV) and played in court yesterday before Kusrini pleaded guilty to ill-treating the boy in his parents' flat.
The boy, who cannot be named due to a court order, has spinal muscular atrophy Type 1 and needs ventilator support and oxygen.
Kusrini was hired by the boy's parents in March last year, and they trained her to use a suction machine to remove phlegm from his windpipe.
The machine includes a suction cap that is attached to a tube, the size of an adult's thumb. Kusrini was told to place the suction cap only outside the boy's nose and lips.
At 9.13am that day, she operated the machine as she felt he had more phlegm than usual.
Instead of following instructions, she inserted the suction cap into his mouth because she felt more phlegm could be removed in less time that way.
But when she inserted her fingers into his mouth about a minute later to remove the cap, she realised it was no longer there. She panicked and inserted her entire right hand into his mouth to retrieve it but failed.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia said his face turned purple as a result of her forceful digging.
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A CCTV camera near the bed captured Kusrini frantically trying to dig the cap out with her bloodied hand.
The boy appeared to be unresponsive throughout his ordeal. She stopped digging at 9.22am.
When the boy's father called her later that morning, she assured him that everything was fine.
The parents returned at around 7pm and did not notice anything amiss at first.
But when they checked on him about two hours later, they found that his heart rate was high, and the pump container of the suction machine was filled with blood.
His mother opened his mouth, found the cap and removed it with a pair of tweezers.
Kusrini, who was unrepresented yesterday, kept silent when the couple confronted her. They then called for an ambulance and informed the police.
The boy was rushed to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, where cuts were discovered inside his throat. He was discharged two days later.
DPP Teo said: "The suction cap left in the victim's throat could have caused choking."
She urged District Judge Low Wee Ping to jail the maid for 1½ years, stressing that the boy was an extremely vulnerable victim.
Judge Low said this was excessive. Noting that the maid was not a trained nurse, he added: "I'm sure (Kusrini) didn't intentionally want to do those things. She was desperately trying to pull the cap out."
Lawyer Mahmood Gaznavi, who was initially not involved in the case but was present in court yesterday, told the judge he intends to represent Kusrini pro bono.
The case has been adjourned to March 23.
For ill-treating the boy, she could be jailed for up to four years and fined up to $4,000.
This article by The Straits Times was published in The New Paper, a free newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.