I could not control my hands from stabbing, says maid accused of murdering employer, leaving almost 100 wounds
SINGAPORE: A maid on trial for murdering her employer, leaving almost 100 knife wounds on her body, told a court on Thursday (Oct 8) that she could not control her hands, "which kept stabbing".
Indonesia national Daryati, 28, said she did not intend to kill 59-year-old Madam Seow Kim Choo and had wanted only to threaten her, slashing her face until Daryati could get the keys to a safe where her passport was kept.
She is accused of murdering her employer by stabbing and slashing her face, scalp and neck multiple times on the night of Jun 7, 2016. A second charge of attempting to murder Mdm Seow's husband, Mr Ong Thiam Soon, who broke into the toilet when he heard the commotion, was stood down for the time being.
Daryati was originally convicted of the murder charge, but later had the conviction set aside after she chose to pursue the defence of diminished responsibility, and the case went back to trial.
For a defence of diminished responsibility to stand, the accused must be suffering from a specific abnormality of mind that substantially impaired her mental responsibility for causing the death.
She took the stand on Thursday and was questioned by Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Kok Weng, who put it to her that she had full knowledge and control of her acts when stabbing Mdm Seow.
Responding through an interpreter, Daryati repeatedly maintained that she did not intend to kill her employer in the Telok Kurau house four years ago. She said she was in a "very angry state" and could not control her hands.
Daryati said she had wanted only to retrieve her passport, which was in a locked safe only Mdm Seow and Mr Ong had the keys to, and return home. She had been working for the family for about two months at the time.
However, the prosecutor pointed out that Daryati had said in her police statement that she would kill Mdm Seow if she did not return her her passport.
READ: Maid claims trial to employer's murder, allegedly stabbed and cut her nearly 100 times
Daryati agreed with the prosecutor that she had targeted Mdm Seow instead of Mr Ong because it would be easier to overpower her.
She was homesick and longing for her lover in Hong Kong, and said she never wanted to come to Singapore to work, but had to because of her parents. Daryati said her employers had treated her well, but claimed that Mdm Seow would not allow her to return to Indonesia.
She told another maid working for the household of her plan to steal money from the family and go back to Indonesia, but did not tell her when she intended to carry it out, or that she intended to threaten Mdm Seow with a knife.
Before the attack, Daryati hid weapons around the house, including a knife in a wardrobe area, a hammer next to a study table and a short knife in a basket under the sink of the master bedroom toilet.
THE DAY OF THE INCIDENT, ACCORDING TO DARYATI
At about 8.30pm on Jun 7, 2016, she diverted Mr Ong's attention so he headed downstairs, before approaching Mdm Seow in the master bedroom with a long knife concealed in her pants.
She pointed the knife at Mdm Seow's neck and said she wanted her passport to go home to Indonesia.
In statements to the police, Daryati said Mdm Seow shouted loudly in Mandarin, and struggled when Daryati tried pulling her towards the safe where the passport was kept.
Fearing that Mr Ong would hear Mdm Seow shouting, Daryati dragged the older woman towards the toilet, said Daryati in her police statement.
When they were in the toilet, Daryati said she slit her neck, with the floor turning slippery from blood, then stabbed and slit her neck again. Mdm Seow collapsed and Daryati said she pushed the older woman down, with her head hitting the floor, and mounted her before stabbing her multiple times on her face.
Daryati said at that time that she could not remember how many times she stabbed Mdm Seow.
In court, Daryati admitted she was "the one who hurt Madam at that time".
The prosecutor Mr Wong asked why she did not run away immediately, and instead took the short knife from under the sink and continued to stab Mdm Seow. The wounds inflicted were so forceful that three of the stabs fractured facial bones.
"At that time I was in a very angry state and I couldn't control my hands," answered Daryati, adding that she was "feeling empty" as she could not return to Indonesia.
"I was indeed stabbing Madam (many) times because I couldn't control my hands," she said.
ACTIONS CRUEL AND SELFISH: PROSECUTOR
Mr Wong said Daryati's actions could be summed up with one word: Cruel.
"Because of your selfish intention to take your passport and take monies from your Madam, you stabbed her so viciously on her face, her neck, so many times that she bled to death," he said.
Daryati repeated that she initially just wanted to get her passport but could not control her anger or "control my hands to stab Madam".
By this time, Mr Ong was alerted to the commotion and unlocked the toilet door with a screwdriver. When he entered, Daryati took both knives in her hands and attacked him, stabbing him just below his neck.
Mr Ong overpowered her after a struggle and she was later handed over to the police.
The trial continues. If convicted of murder, she could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. The prosecution confirmed earlier that they would not ask for a death sentence if Daryati stood by an agreed statement of facts.