Woman who slapped maid until eardrum burst, forced her to drink toilet bowl water gets appeal dismissed
SINGAPORE: Ooi Wei Voen slapped her maid so hard her eardrum ruptured, forced her to drink water from the toilet bowl and rubbed a faeces-filled diaper in her face.
On Friday (Feb 25), she had her appeal for a reduced sentence dismissed by the High Court and will start serving 20 months' jail.
Ooi, 37, was sentenced in August last year after pleading guilty to four charges of abusing her maid. Another six charges were taken into consideration. Her husband, Pang Chen Yong, was jailed four months.
The couple's Indonesian maid, Ms Sri Rahayu, started working for them in April 2017. At the time, their son was two years old and their daughter nine months old.
Around July 2017, Ooi and Pang began to hit the 33-year-old maid when she did not complete the housework to their satisfaction.
In one example, during a staycation at Sentosa in August that year, Ooi became upset when her daughter started crying and she realised the baby's milk was too hot.
Ooi used her fist to pound Ms Sri Rahayu's forehead and eye, which swelled until the victim could not see properly. When the family left the hotel, Ooi made the victim wear a tudung to cover up her swollen forehead.
On another occasion, Ooi alleged that the victim had sneezed near the baby's milk bottle. She slapped her left ear, causing it to become swollen and painful.
As the swelling did not subside, Ooi took her to the clinic. The maid was told to lie to the doctor that she already had a deformed left ear before coming to Singapore. She was prescribed antibiotics and advised to visit a specialist.
Another time, Ooi hit the victim's thighs multiple times with a metal ladle, causing her to faint from the pain. The victim's legs became swollen and bruised, and she had difficulty walking for several days after.
In another instance, Ooi took a flask that Ms Sri Rahayu had earlier filled with boiling water and poured it on the victim as the baby was crying and refused to sleep.
The victim was not allowed to hang clothes on the balcony or leave the house to throw rubbish as Ooi was afraid the neighbours would see bruising on her arms, a court previously heard.
The couple's offences were discovered on Jan 1, 2018. At about 1am, Pang grew angry with the victim for not informing him that the baby had a fever.
Ooi called the victim "stupid" and kicked her in the stomach. The victim fell and bumped her head, but Ooi continued kicking her while she was on the ground.
The victim escaped while the couple was attending to the baby and sought help from another Indonesian maid who happened to be passing by. She was taken to a police station and then to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
Ooi engaged lawyer Jonathan Wong of Tembusu Law for her appeal, which focused on giving more weight to her psychological state as a mitigating factor.
Ooi suffered from major depressive disorder with peripartum offset when she committed the offences.
Mr Wong cited two experts, including one from the Institute of Mental Health, who concluded that Ooi suffered from the disorder and that it contributed to her committing the offences as it diminished her capacity for self-control.
He asked for Ooi's sentence to be reduced from 20 months to between 11 and 15 months.
In response, the deputy public prosecutor said that Ooi's post-natal depression was a relevant consideration, but she retained sufficient self-control, acted deliberately and even took "concerted steps" to conceal her offences.
Ooi's culpability was high and she was aware of the wrongfulness of her actions at the time, the prosecution argued.
She said that Ooi was a "persistent" offender who carried out the abuse over half a year and that there was clear and pressing public interest in deterring maid abuse.
There was also aggravating conduct in the form of the likely permanent ear deformity and "degrading treatment" suffered by the victim, said the prosecution, citing a few examples.
On one occasion, Ooi told the victim to drink water from the toilet bowl, which she did as she did not want to be hit. Ooi also rubbed the victim's face with her daughter's faeces-filled diaper in another incident between July and November 2017.
Justice Kannan Ramesh upheld the sentence given by a lower court, saying that a "significant discount" had already been given for Ooi's post-natal depression.
He said Ooi's conduct was egregious and demeaning, and caused psychological as well as permanent physical harm to the victim.
He also found no support for the appellant's argument that 20 months' jail would have more ramifications on Ooi's psychological condition, compared to the maximum 15-month sentence she was seeking.