SINGAPORE: A maid who stabbed her employer nearly 100 times and attacked her husband when he came to help was sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday (Apr 23) for murder.
Indonesian national Daryati, who goes by one name, was given the sentence after a series of court proceedings that saw her plead guilty, retract her plea and be tried again and eventually convicted of murder.
Daryati, 28, carried out the murder two months into her new job working for 59-year-old Seow Kim Choo and her husband at their Telok Kurau house in 2016.
All accounts showed that the victim and her family had treated Daryati well and given her adequate rest and food.
However, in what the prosecution called a "brutal" and "senseless" murder, Daryati hatched a plot to kill the victim, retrieve her passport and steal her money to start a business in Indonesia.
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.
She wrote in her diary on May 12, 2016: "I must carry out this plan quickly. I have to be brave even though life is at stake. I am ready to face all risks/consequences, whatever the risk, I must be ready to accept it. I hope that this plan succeed and run smoothly. My employer's family is my target. DEATH!!!"
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.
On the day of the attack on Jun 7, 2016, Daryati, brandishing a knife, asked Mdm Seow for her passport.
When the older woman screamed, Daryati dragged her into a toilet and closed the door before slashing and stabbing her neck, head and face repeatedly.
An autopsy report found 94 wounds on Mdm Seow.
When Mdm Seow's husband heard the commotion, he used a screwdriver to open the toilet door but Daryati attacked him while armed with two knives.
She stabbed him in the neck, but he managed to overpower her and bound her hands with cable ties. The police were notified and she was arrested.
READ: I could not control my hands from stabbing, says maid accused of murdering employer, leaving almost 100 wounds
Mdm Seow died of multiple incised and stab wounds to her head and neck that resulted in massive bleeding. Considerable force was found to be used on at least three stabs to Mdm Seow's face.
Daryati had testified that she experienced her first major depressive episode when she was a teenager after being raped by her brother. She continued to experience symptoms, maintained by "her shame that she was homosexual" and had been sexually abused, even when she came to Singapore.
"At that time I was in a very angry state and I couldn't control my hands," Daryati testified, 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.
Her lawyer, who was appointed by the Indonesian embassy, tried unsuccessfully to argue for the defence of diminished responsibility.
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.
For committing murder under Section 300c, Daryati could have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment, but the prosecution did not submit for a death sentence. She cannot be caned as she is a woman.