Baby found dead in Simei flat, maid assisting in investigations

Update: An Indonesian maid was charged on Tuesday (May 10) with culpable homicide not amounting to murder over the death of an one-year-old toddler under her care.

Channel NewsAsia reported that Maryani Usman Utar, 30, allegedly strangled her employer's child to death on May 8, some time between 2am and 7.36am in their flat at Block 225, Simei Street 4.

According to the charge sheet in court, the woman allegedly caused the toddler's death by "punching her on her neck and gripping her neck tightly with all (her) strength until she stopped crying, with the knowledge that such acts were likely to cause her death".

The district judge granted the prosecution's request for the suspect to be remanded for another week. Her case will be mentioned again on May 17.

If convicted of committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the maid will face a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine.

A one-year-old girl found with head and neck injuries in her Simei home was rushed to hospital on Sunday but died.

A 30-year-old Indonesian domestic worker will be charged today with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Richelle Teo had just turned one last week, Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday.

The incident happened at about 9am on Sunday at Block 225, Simei Street 4, Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported yesterday.

Richelle's grandfather, Zhang Xiongkun, told Shin Min that his son had been chanting scriptures on the bedroom floor, with Richelle sleeping on the bed.

"My daughter-in-law and my four-year-old grandson were out then and the maid wasn't at home. After my son finished chanting, he tried to wake Richelle up but she wouldn't do so," the 81-year-old said.

She had bruises on her neck and head and her lips had turned black.

Richelle was rushed to Changi General Hospital but died soon after arriving.

Mr Zhang said his son tried to call the family's maid, Maryani Usman Utar, but she could not be contacted for at least six hours.

She had worked for them for more than a year and had her day off on Sunday. The police eventually found her at Marina Bay, Wanbao reported.

She was escorted by three Criminal Investigation Department officers back to the flat at about 12.25pm yesterday, Shin Min reported.

One of the officers had a doll in his hand, believed to be related to the case.

The police confirmed the case yesterday and told My Paper that "a 30-year-old woman is assisting in investigations into the unnatural death".

Richelle's father, Teo Kok Eng, had set up a fund-raiser on fund-raising site on Jan 12 seeking financial help, stating that his wife suffers from schizophrenia and was unemployed.

The campaign has raised only $680 so far.

Mr Teo told Wanbao that social workers had approached him and helped him apply for Medifund grants to help pay for his wife's medical costs.

Richelle's grandfather, Mr Wu, told Shin Min that the girl's mother had become "mentally disturbed" after both she and her husband lost their jobs and she was faced with bankruptcy.

They are now both employed but Mr Teo will be out of work once his three-month contract is up.

"They will be in financial difficulty again and I don't know what we'll do about my granddaughter's funeral arrangements," said Mr Wu.

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