Fatal abuse of Myanmar maid: Mother of abuser pleads guilty to assaulting victim
The mother of one of Singapore’s worst maid abusers, whose helper died, pleaded guilty on Monday to also abusing the maid.
Prema S Naraynasamy, 64, pleaded guilty to 48 charges of voluntarily causing hurt to the maid.
She is claiming trial to one charge of causing evidence to disappear.
She had originally also faced a murder charge, but was later given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.
Between October 2015 and her death in July 2016, Ms Piang was physically assaulted almost daily, deprived of food and rest, and made to shower and relieve herself with the toilet door open.
In the last 12 days of her life, she was tied to the window grille at night while she slept on the floor.
She weighed 39kg when she started working for the family on May 28, 2015, but weighed a mere 24 kg when she died on July 26, 2016, from the final assault.
Several clips taken from cameras installed in the three-bedroom flat in Bishan were played in court on Monday, showing Prema and her daughter repeatedly abusing Ms Piang.
In one of the clips, Prema was seen beating the maid with a bamboo pole that was used to hang clothes.
In another, she had grabbed Ms Piang by the hair, dragging her to the ground before lifting her up by her hair again.
Other clips also showed Prema violently shaking Ms Piang and beating her as she was relieving herself in the toilet.
Prema’s daughter, housewife Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 41, the wife of a police officer, had admitted in February last year to starving, torturing and killing Ms Piang.
Gaiyathiri had been sentenced on June 22, 2021, to 30 years in prison - the longest jail term meted out here in a maid abuse case.
She had poured cold water on Ms Piang, slapping, pushing, punching, kicking her and stomping on her while she was on the ground.
She also hit Ms Piang with objects like a plastic bottle or metal ladle, pulled her from the ground by the hair, burned her with a heated iron and choked her.
The maid’s meals often comprised sliced bread soaked in water, cold food straight from the refrigerator or some rice at night.
She was allowed to sleep for only about five hours a night and did her chores wearing multiple layers of face masks as Gaiyathiri found her unhygienic.
In total, Gaiyathiri pleaded guilty to 28 charges and another 87 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
The case was described by High Court judge See Kee Oon as among the worst cases of culpable homicide, noting Ms Piang endured agonising physical and psychological harm for a long time before she died.
Gaiyathiri’s former husband, Kevin Chelvam, 43, has been suspended since 2016, and faces multiple charges in relation to the abuse of Ms Piang.
His case is still pending before the courts. Their divorce was finalised in 2020.
Prema’s case has been adjourned for mitigation and sentencing and is expected to be heard again on Jan 9, next year.
For each charge of voluntarily causing hurt, she can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.
Under the enhanced penalties for offences against domestic maids, the court may sentence her to one-and-a-half times the amount of punishment.