SINGAPORE: The Indonesian maid who was convicted of ill-treating her employers' son, who was then four years old, has had her jail sentence doubled from four months to eight months.
Kusrini Caslan Arja, 37, had been sentenced to four months' jail last month for ill-treating the boy, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and is bedridden. She admitted that she left a suction cap lodged in the boy's throat for about 12 hours after trying and failing to pull it out.
Though she had been taught by the boy's parents to place the suction cap on the boy's lips - he relies on a suction machine to remove phlegm and mucus from his nose and mouth - she thought it would be more efficient to place the cap in the boy's mouth as she noticed the boy had more phlegm than usual on that particular day.
When the boy's parents called to check if anything was wrong after seeing via a CCTV camera next to the boy's bed that Kusrini was giving the boy oxygen, she assured them that everything was under control.
The cap was removed by the boy's mother, a nurse, when she returned home that night about 12 hours after the cap first became lodged. She removed the cap with a pair of tweezers and called an ambulance and the police.
Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang on Tuesday (Apr 25) doubled the initial four-month jail term imposed, saying that District Judge Low Wee Ping had wrongly analysed the case as that of "someone being punished simply because she was not equipped for a particular task".
In his written judgement, Judge Tay said that Kusrini was being punished not for being ignorant or unskilled, but for her "cold disregard of the child's safety and suffering which must have been evident to any ordinary adult in the situation that day".
Referring to this, Judge Tay said that by appearing to have been content to let things be, Kusrini's conduct "could no longer be excused as sheer ignorance or foolishness", instead adding "folly upon folly".
"She did not tell anyone about the incident or call for help for the next 12 hours or so because 'she was trying to hide her mistake'. Therein lies the real blameworthiness in this sad incident."
However, he added that Kusrini's case was different from others in which adults wilfully inflicted pain and suffering on child victims, saying that he did not agree with the prosecution's call for a sentence of at least 18 months' imprisonment.