Stiff jail sentence for 'relentless tormentor'

SINGAPORE - A judge described it as "probably one of the most distressing cases" of maid abuse seen in Singapore.

Chan Huey Fern was sentenced to 21 months' jail on Wednesday after inflicting severe injuries on 25-year-old Indonesian Juwarti, by punching and kicking her on several occasions.

She even threatened to torture her. However, the 32-year-old is appealing against both conviction and sentence.

She is out on $20,000 bail after being found guilty last week of five of 12 charges of causing hurt to Ms Juwarti at her Buangkok Link flat in December 2010.

Chan punched the maid in the eye in mid-December that year after being unhappy with the way she took care of her two children, then aged one and three.

On Dec 27, when Chan found her son had a temperature, she angrily accused the maid of not monitoring him and kicked her in the abdomen more than once.

Chan also pushed Ms Juwarti's head against the toilet door frame and kicked her in the groin area - causing pain the maid described as "unimaginable".

Four days later, Chan found her son's blanket on the floor and lashed out at the maid, kicking her repeatedly.

She further kicked her in the stomach, back and at least three times in the groin after calling her into the kitchen. The pain was so intense that Ms Juwarti "felt like dying".

When Chan saw her bleeding, she told her to change her bermuda shorts and threatened to kick her harder if she shouted.

Chan even threatened to torture her the next day if she did not walk upright.

Ms Juwarti, who fled the home with some coins on New Year's Eve, had said: "I thought to myself that I must get out from that house, as I could not endure the pain. Otherwise, I would end up dead."

In his grounds of decision, District Judge Low Wee Ping said Chan repeatedly abused Ms Juwarti, both mentally and physically, for nine months.

"Your abuses were systematic," he said. "What you have done to a helpless domestic helper is repugnant to all notions of common humanity."

He said that the injuries - particularly the bruises aroundher groin and genital areas - were appalling.

"The severity of the injuries is unquestionably an aggravating factor that should be taken into account," he said.

He said Chan was the one who ought to have protected the maid but instead, she became her "relentless tormentor".

The court heard that Ms Juwarti slept for only about four hours a day from 2am to 6am.

The judge said the court had considered the cumulative effect of Chan's abuse.

"This is probably one of the most distressing domestic maid abuse cases in Singapore," he said.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jason Chua also argued that it was one of the worst cases that have come before the courts.

He said: "The fact that she denies that she has committed any of the offences displays a clear lack of remorse on her part to show she is repentant for what she has done."

When the aggravating factors were considered as a whole, Chan's culpability in this case fell within the upper end of the sentencing range, he added. Chan could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to $7,500 on each charge.

 

elena@sph.com.sg


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