SINGAPORE: The High Court on Friday (Sep 25) dismissed the appeals against the conviction of husband-and-wife pair Rosman Anwar and Khairani Abdul Rahman, who had been convicted of abusing their Indonesian domestic helper over a period of 21 months.
Instead, Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon tripled Rosman’s jail term from two to six weeks, and doubled Khairani’s jail term from four to eight weeks, following a successful appeal by the prosecution.
ORIGINAL SENTENCES "MANIFESTLY INADEQUATE"
JC See agreed with the prosecution that the couple’s original sentences had been manifestly inadequate and a higher sentence was justified in light of the emotional and psychological toll on the victim, as well as the lengthy period of abuse she suffered. It stretched from August 2011 till March 2013, when Solichah escaped.
The couple had been convicted and sentenced in May this year after a 7-day trial. Rosman was convicted on two charges for slapping Solichah and pulling her hair, while Khairani was convicted on three counts: Two for slapping Solichah and one for hitting her on the head with a stool.
'SCOLDED AND KICKED BY MY TWO EMPLOYERS'
In seeking a higher sentence, the prosecutor said the sentences of Rosman and Khairani were lower than other maid abuse cases with less aggravating factors. Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong cited four factors in particular: That the assaults were inflicted on vulnerable parts of the victim’s body (her head and face), that the assaults were a pattern of abuse over a prolonged period of time, the victim’s trauma, and the extensive abuse of position of authority by Rosman and Khairani.
DPP Chong noted that the offences were not isolated incidents, but part of a pattern of regular abuse inflicted on Solichah. The domestic helper had made entries in her notebook chronicling other instances of abuse she suffered at the hands of her employers.
One notebook entry read: “I was willing to accept these trials, even called me animal and have been scolded and kicked by my two employers …” The prosecutor also reminded the court that these other incidents “had been properly proved, tested during cross-examination and accepted as truthful” and thus should have been taken into account during the couple’s initial sentencing, but the district judge did not do so.
FRIGHTENED, CRYING, DEPRESSED
The prosecutor also submitted that the district judge had not given due weight to the trauma suffered by Solichah and instead noted that she was “calm" in testifying in front of the couple.
However, Solichah’s agent had testified during the couple’s trial that the victim was frightened, crying and flustered when reporting the abuse. Another agent told the court that the victim was “depressed” and “very quiet” in contrast with her talkative personality before she began working for the couple.
“Bruises and broken bones from physical abuse will heal over time. A spirit battered by emotional trauma and mental abuse will find it far more difficult to recover”, DPP Chong told the court.
JC See has allowed Khairani to serve her increased sentence first, after which Rosman will surrender himself and serve his extended sentence. This is to allow one parent to be present to care for their three school-going sons.