'I'm scared to look at her': Burn victim on mother-in-law

File Photo: Burn victim, primary schoolteacher Julie Yeoh Kar Tin, 43, had her head and hands wrapped in muslin.

MALAYSIA - A burn victim told the Sessions Court in Butterworth, Penang, that she was so tormented by her ordeal that she was afraid to even look at her mother-in-law, one of two people allegedly accused of hurting her.

Primary school teacher Julie Yeoh Kar Tin, 43, who had her head and hands wrapped in muslin, said this when asked to identify Lee Wei Mei, 64, in court.

"She is here, but I'm scared to look at her," said Ms Yeoh, when asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Suhaimi Ibrahim if she could point out Wei Mei.

The mother-in-law and her sister Lee Wei Chee, 61, are jointly charged with injuring Ms Yeoh with a knife at the latter's home in Seberang Jaya in May last year, The Star reported.

The sisters also face another charge of setting the teacher's flat alight with petrol.

The fire left her in coma for days, and she is now scarred for life. She suffered 45 per cent burns. The women were believed to have quarrelled and in the heat of the moment, the older woman struck her daughter-in-law on the head.

Too traumatised

As Ms Yeoh was too traumatised to look at the accused, DPP Suhaimi asked if she could tell whether Wei Mei was the one on the left or right of the dock.

Wei Chee's lawyer, Mr Y. Anbananthan, objected, saying that the witness had to identify the person properly to avoid confusion.

Sessions judge Musyiri Peet then ordered Ms Yeoh to point at Wei Mei, which she eventually did.

Before being asked to identify Wei Mei, the teacher told the court that she married Wei Mei's son, Mr Mak Chee Wah, in 1992. Prior to the incident, Wei Mei used to go to her house on weekdays.

The mother of two told the court: "She would help take care of my four-year-old son when my husband and I went to work."

This is the first time that Ms Yeoh is testifying in the case, which drew much public attention when it was first brought to court in May last year.

It was reported that Ms Yeoh slipped into a coma after the alleged assault, and woke up eight days later at the Penang Hospital with burns on her body and a scarred face.

While the trial was going on on Wednesday, Wei Chee interrupted the proceedings with loud retching sounds. The judge ordered the court to be stood down for a 30-minute break for Wei Chee to rest at about 11am. When the court resumed, Mr Anbananthan sought a postponement as Wei Chee had complained of gastric pains.

DPP Suhaimi objected, saying that the trial had been postponed many times.

Ms Yeoh was accompanied to court by Mr Mak, 43, and their 19-year-old son.