SINGAPORE: Upset by the manner a domestic helper cut some food for him and by her remark that he ate a lot, a man punched the maid thrice in her face, causing fractures.
Suriya Krishnan, 25, was sentenced to six months' jail on Tuesday (Feb 8) and ordered to pay the victim S$8,500 in compensation.
He pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt to a domestic helper where the hurt was not intended to be grievous but turned out to be so. A second charge of kicking her head, shoulder and thigh was taken into consideration.
The court heard that the victim, a 27-year-old Myanmar national, was employed by Suriya's sister. Suriya lived in a flat in Hougang with his sister, his parents and the victim.
On the night of May 29, 2020, Suriya's family was celebrating his father's birthday in the flat. Before celebrations began, Suriya consumed a 750ml bottle of liquor and was intoxicated.
At about 8.30pm, Suriya's mother instructed the victim to cut some jelly for Suriya. The victim went to the kitchen to do so, but was followed by Suriya, who asked her to prepare some food for him.
The victim passed a remark to the effect that Suriya ate a lot. This, along with the fact that she did not cut the jelly in a manner that he wanted, made Suriya upset.
He scolded the victim, prompting his mother to intervene and to scold him.
He left the kitchen, but later returned and punched the maid's face three times. One of the punches landed under her right eye, and she covered her face in pain and crouched.
Suriya was restrained by his family members.
The victim sought medical treatment and was found to have suffered fractures of her right orbital floor and lamina papyracea, around her eye region. She also had bruising and bleeding, with pain on eye movement.
She was admitted to hospital and later discharged for outpatient follow-up treatment, and the hospital filed a police report.
She stopped working for Suriya's sister after the incident, but was paid for the month of May 2020. She found a new job on Aug 7, 2020, but went without salary for the months of June and July that year.
The prosecutor asked for seven months' jail, saying the case involved a vulnerable victim, and that Suriya was voluntarily intoxicated at the time.
On top of this, the prosecution sought a compensation order of S$8,500. Of this, S$1,000 was for the victim's loss of income, and S$7,500 was for her pain and suffering.
Suriya's lawyer asked for six months' jail instead. He said the maid had smirked when Suriya's mother scolded him, which "provoked" him to punch her.
The prosecutor said this was not borne out by investigations, while the judge asked: "How does that justify violence?"
The lawyer said there was some form of provocation. He also pointed out that the maid was in hospital for "only seven days", with no evidence she suffered psychologically from the attack. It was a one-off incident, with no trend of abusive conduct, and his client did not target the victim's eye area, he said.
He said his client was unable to pay the compensation and would serve the jail term in default.
The judge ordered Suriya to serve six months' jail. If he cannot pay the S$8,500 in compensation, he will have to serve another one month in default.