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Maid jailed for negligence that led to child having toothbrush stuck down throat

Maid jailed for negligence that led to child having toothbrush stuck down throat

File photo of a toothbrush. (Photo: Pixabay/Bruno)

SINGAPORE: While brushing a two-year-old boy's teeth, a domestic helper left the toothbrush in his mouth before turning away.

When she turned back to a shout from the boy, the toothbrush had gone down his throat, and the boy was vomiting blood onto the floor.

Myanmar national Chi Nar Paw Tan, 24, was given eight weeks' jail on Tuesday (Mar 9) for a negligent act by failing to remove the toothbrush from the boy's mouth when he was under her care, leading to the injuries he later suffered.

The court heard that Chi Nar Paw Tan worked for the boy's family as a domestic helper, tasked with cleaning and looking after her employer's children.

On Dec 27 last year, she was instructed to bathe the two-year-old child. She undressed him and washed his body before deciding to brush his teeth.

She did so with a 15cm-long toothbrush, and left the brush in his mouth before turning her back to the boy, leaving him unattended.

She heard a shout from the boy and turned to see the handle of the toothbrush protruding out of his mouth. The boy vomited blood on the floor and began to cry.

The sound drew his mother, who called for an ambulance, saying her son had swallowed a whole toothbrush and was choking on it.

The boy was taken to the hospital, where medical personnel saw the tip of the toothbrush at the back of his throat. The bit with the bristles was in the middle of the esophagus, the court heard.

The boy was referred to another hospital, drooling and intermittently gagging, and the toothbrush was removed with a pair of strong forceps.

The bristles were caked brown with dried blood, the court heard, and a medical report detailed injuries the boy suffered, including abrasions in his throat and esophagus.

The boy was warded and discharged several days later on Dec 31, 2020.

The prosecutor asked for at least eight weeks' jail. The maid, who has been in remand since December 2020, said she just wanted to go home to her parents as soon as possible.

She said the children in the house used to beat her, with the five-year-old boy hitting her in the mouth until she bled.

"When I told the employer, he used to say it is okay, take the beating - I will give you extra 10 bucks," she said. 

She claimed that the oldest child, a seven-year-old boy, would urinate in her cup and ask her to drink it. She alleged that the boy said his mother had asked him to do this.

In response, the prosecution said this was the first time they had heard of this, adding that Chi Nar Paw Tan had told police during investigations that she was treated well by her employers and was not hurt nor abused.

The prosecutor said that Chi Nar Paw Tan could make a police report that if she felt the need to, but the domestic helper said she did not want to do so and instead wanted to return home.

For causing hurt by a negligent act, she could have been jailed up to six months, fined up to S$2,500, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(cy)

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