SINGAPORE - Dressed in a button-down top and black trousers, her stockinged feet in sandals and her belongings stowed in a pink recyclable bag, she looked like a typical grandmother.
Yet the setting could not be more contrasting.
The greying woman stood in the dock, her hands trembling as details of her crime were read out.
On the night of Sept 15, 2011, Qi Xinling, 61, got into an argument with her housemate, 23-year-old Guan Qiuyue, over their tenancy agreement.
Both from China, they were tenants of a flat in Jalan Bukit Ho Swee.
When the younger woman went to her room to do some work, she realised there was no Internet connection.
She went to the living room and found the Internet cable had been unplugged.
She then switched off the television even though Qi was watching it.
The two women got into a second argument that night and Miss Guan threw a cup of water at Qi.
In retaliation, Qi splashed hot water from a flask at Miss Guan, who ran back to her room screaming that she had been disfigured.
Miss Guan suffered from firstand second-degree burns on her face, neck, upper chest, abdomen and arms. Medical reports also showed scars on the left side of her face that are likely to be permanent. Before Qi's mitigation plea, District Judge Marvin Bay asked Deputy Public Prosecutor Chen Zhida to show Qi pictures of the victim's injuries.
Speaking through an interpreter, Qi wept as she told the court in Mandarin how she has been in Singapore for 12 years but has never committed any offence.
A former tuition teacher, she maintained that she reacted instinctively when the victim threw water at her.
In sentencing, Judge Bay said he took Qi's age into account and the fact that she's an educated person, even giving her a chance to address the court after showing her pictures of the victim after the attack.
"I have asked you to say something to see if you will feel any sympathy for (the victim), but you said nothing. In fact, you blamed her," he said before sentencing her to five weeks' jail.
Despite her earlier display of emotions, Qi was stoic when police officers placed handcuffs on her, not even turning back to look at her daughter in the public gallery as she was led away.
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