SINGAPORE: A dispute over bread led to a maid slapping her 92-year-old employer before pushing him in a scuffle that followed.
The elderly man fell backwards and suffered spinal injuries, including a fracture. He was hospitalised for months and now needs help to walk.
For a charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt, 33-year-old Myanmar national Than Nwe was sentenced to jail for one year and 10 months on Tuesday (Mar 24).
The court heard that the victim hired Than Nwe in March 2019 to care for his bedridden wife in their Chai Chee flat.
A few months after starting work for the retiree, Than Nwe had an argument with him on the morning of Jun 28, 2019, over the buying of bread.
They argued in the living room, with Than Nwe telling her employer that she would go back to Myanmar.
He replied that he "was not afraid even if she wanted to go back, and he would send her back if she wanted", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sunil Nair.
This angered the maid, who gestured at her employer before suddenly approaching him and slapping him.
He tried to block the slap, but still took a blow, losing his balance and steadying himself against a table.
He was offended by the slap and told Than Nwe that she "dared to hit Ah Gong".
He put his hands up in a defensive boxing position and moved towards Than Nwe.
A scuffle ensued and Than Nwe then pushed her employer with force, causing him to fall backwards and hit his back.
The fight was partly captured by a closed-circuit television camera installed in the living room.
When her employer could not move, Than Nwe pressed an emergency bell in the house and told the operator on the line that the victim had fallen down. She tried to help the elderly man while waiting for an ambulance.
The victim sustained a fracture in his spine and other spinal injuries, and had to undergo surgery.
He stayed in Changi General Hospital for more than two months and was transferred to St Andrew's Community Hospital for rehabilitation for another month.
He continues to have difficulties walking and needs help to move about, said court documents.
District Judge Marvin Bay told the maid that she could have disengaged from the confrontation given "the great imbalance in age and strength".
"While I accept that your act was not deeply premeditated in the sense of your having any prearranged plan to grievously injure the victim before the heated argument, the push that you gave was certainly deliberate, and indeed extremely forceful," said Judge Bay.
Than Nwe could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. She cannot be caned as she is a woman.