SINGAPORE — Angered at her employer for scolding her, a maid took out her frustration on the employer’s bedridden, elderly mother, who was aged 76.
Aye Aye Naing, 40, admitted to roughly pulling the victim’s hair to make her sit, slapping her mouth, pulling her by the neck from the wheelchair and also tugging her arms to make her sit up.
The abuse went on for six to seven months, with the victim only able to raise her hand slowly to protect herself.
The Myanmar national was jailed for 30 weeks on Monday (6 December) after she pleaded guilty to three out of four counts of voluntarily causing hurt to a vulnerable victim, with the remaining count taken into consideration for her sentencing.
Facts of the case
Aye Aye Naing resided with her Singaporean employer, 52, and her employer’s Malaysian mother, who suffers from spinal problems and arthritis and is bedridden.
She had no issues with her employer, who provided her with sufficient food and a proper place to sleep. The victim also treated the maid “very well” and enjoyed having her around, said the prosecution.
But Aye Aye Naing soon became stressed as her employer scolded her when she did not do things in a proper manner. The helper would then vent her anger on her employer’s mother by handling the elderly woman in a rough manner.
The victim told her daughter about the abuse and the daughter confronted the maid, who claimed that the victim had simply fallen down. While the employer gave the victim the benefit of the doubt, she installed a CCTV camera in the victim’s bedroom.
On 31 July last year, as the victim was lying on her bed, the maid walked over and hit her face with a cushion. The victim slowly moved her hand to her mouth to protect her face, but Aye Aye Naing swatted it away. She pressed down on the elderly woman’s nose and jabbed her face repeatedly.
The following month, on 14 August, the maid shook an alarm clock over the victim’s face, then hit her mouth with the gadget. The elderly woman again put her hand up to protect herself, but the maid kept gesticulating at her.
Four days later, Aye Aye Naing pushed the victim on a wheelchair into the latter’s room, sat the elderly woman on the bed and pushed her into a lying position. She jabbed the woman’s mouth and pressed down roughly on it.
Hours later, she pulled the victim’s hair and pushed her head to bring her into a sitting position. While pulling the victim’s shorts upwards, the maid inadvertently hit the victim on the chin.
Around 20 minutes later, as the victim lay on her bed, Aye Aye Naing pressed the base of a water bottle thrice onto the victim’s mouth.
The employer found out about the offences after checking the CCTV footage. She then made a police report.
On 22 August last year, the employer brought her mother to the hospital. The victim was found alert but with bruises noted over her forehead, right cheek, left shoulder region and left thigh. No neurological damage was found, and her lungs and heart were normal.
The employer’s daughter declined X-Rays and CT scans of her mother’s brain despite understanding the potential risks, including missing a fracture or intracranial haemorrhage. The victim was discharged with medical advice, drug prescription, and three days of medical leave. She was referred to a polyclinic to be reviewed.
Meanwhile, Aye Aye Naing was assessed at the Institute of Mental Health as per a court order, and was deemed to have adjustment disorder following her court case.
During investigations, the victim indicated that she was happy to have been cared for by Aye Aye Naing, and happy to have had the maid around.
The maid’s lawyer Joseph Lum Guo Rong, sought six months’ jail for his client. Characterising the abuse as “episodes of outburst” of frustration, he stressed that his client had not been abusing the victim frequently and it was not a case of a pattern of abuse.
Lum added that his client shared a “good relationship” with the victim, who was a grandmotherly figure to her. The maid had been burdened with many household chores and when the victim called her over, she lost her temper, said the lawyer.
For voluntarily causing hurt, the maid could have been jailed up to three years, or fined up to $5,000, or both. For committing the offence on a vulnerable person, she could have faced up to twice the maximum punishment.
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