SINGAPORE: A maid tasked with caring for a bedridden elderly woman during her stay in hospital pinched her several times over her body.
For pinching the 67-year-old cancer patient on her arm, cheek, nose and breast, Myanmar national Lain Ngain, 28, was sentenced to four months' jail on Wednesday (Sep 11).
The court heard that the maid began working for her employers in September 2017, and was asked to care for the elderly woman, the late Madam Wee Keu Hoi.
Mdm Wee was bedridden and in ill health between July 2018 and January this year, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Colin Ng.
She was warded at the National University Hospital (NUH) for end-stage renal cancer, and Lain Ngain was to care for her and attend to her needs in the hospital ward during visiting hours.
Between 11.55am and 1.05pm on Dec 31, 2018, Lain Ngain pinched Mdm Wee on her arm, breast, cheek and nose.
When Mdm Wee's son visited her in hospital later that day, she told him that the maid had hit her on several occasions.
Mdm Wee's son told the duty nurse about what had happened, and the nurse reviewed closed-circuit television footage and confirmed that Lain Ngain had hurt his mother.
Footage showed the maid pinching Mdm Wee thrice on her left cheek, and once each on her left arm, left breast and nose.
MAID UPSET BY VICTIM'S PURPORTED TANTRUMS, INSULTS
The maid later said she was upset with Mdm Wee "for throwing tantrums and insulting her on several occasions" while she was caring for the older woman in the ward, the court heard.
"This led the accused to pinch the victim in order to stop the victim from throwing tantrums and insulting her," said the prosecutor.
Mdm Wee was examined at NUH and found with a purplish bruise measuring 1cm by 1cm near her left nipple.
The doctor said that before the acts of abuse on Dec 31, 2018, the nurse had not documented any wound at Mdm Wee's left breast during regular nursing assessments, and found that the injury was a result of the maid's acts.
Mdm Wee's son lodged a police report on Jan 2 this year, saying his mother was critically ill and unable to fight back. His mother died from a heart attack on Jan 23.
Lain Ngain pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt.
The prosecutor had asked for at least four months' jail, saying the case involved "an utter betrayal of the trust emplaced in the accused to care for the elderly and terminally ill victim in her care".
"We urge the court to consider the importance of sending a strong signal in the public interest to deter caregivers from abusing the trust placed in them to look after our vulnerable and elderly," said the prosecutor.
"This need is especially vital today where a significant and increasing proportion of our society depend on domestic helpers to care for our elderly family members."
He added that Lain Ngain was "callous and cruel towards the victim, who had to suffer at the hands of her abuser even during the last few weeks towards the end of her life".
For voluntarily causing hurt, the maid could have been jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$5,000, or both.