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Fatal abuse of Myanmar maid: Mother of abuser pleads guilty to assaulting maid

Prema S Naraynasamy admitted to joining in her daughter Gaiyathiri Murugayan's physical abuse of Ms Piang Ngaih Don, who died of a brain injury after 14 months of repeated abuse.

 Fatal abuse of Myanmar maid: Mother of abuser pleads guilty to assaulting maid

Prema S Naraynasamy (left), being taken back to the scene of the alleged crime in 2017 and an old photo of Ms Piang Ngaih Don. (Photos: TODAY, Facebook/Helping Hands for Migrant Workers, Singapore)

SINGAPORE: The mother of a woman who abused her maid until she died of a brain injury pleaded guilty on Monday (Nov 21) to multiple charges for her role in the fatal abuse.

Ms Piang Ngaih Don, a 24-year-old Myanmar national, died of brain injury with severe blunt trauma to her neck on Jul 26, 2016, after 14 months of repeated abuse.

She was punched, stamped on and starved until she was only 24kg. In the days before she died, she was tied to a window grille at night and assaulted if she tried to rummage for food from the dustbin.

On Monday, 64-year-old Prema S Naraynasamy pleaded guilty to 48 charges, mostly of voluntarily causing hurt to a maid. 

Her acts of abuse include: Pouring or spraying water on the 24-year-old maid, kicking, punching and slapping her, grabbing her by the neck, pulling her up by her hair and "spinning" her head violently.

She also hit the maid with tools like a spatula, a towel and a detergent bottle, and watched as the maid used the toilet.

Prema had her own flat but stayed over with her daughter about three times a week. When she stayed over, she would sleep in the same room as Ms Piang Ngaih Don. She knew that the maid was tied to the grille and that she was physically abused.

Around the time she was became aware of her daughter's physical abuse of the maid, Prema also started physically abusing her - at times with her daughter, and at times of her own accord.

She began noticing that the domestic worker's legs had become swollen and that she was losing a lot of weight. She also noticed her physical injuries such as a burn mark on her forearm and bruises on her body.

Closed-circuit television footage from cameras installed in the house to monitor the victim and the children showed the abuse carried out in the last 35 days of the victim's life.

In one clip, Prema was shown repeatedly striking the maid's head with a cloth as the maid was using the toilet, with her head bowed.

Prema, who is defended by lawyer Rai Satish, did not look up as footage of the abuse was played in open court.

The assault that led to the victim's death occurred from the night of Jul 25, 2016 into the morning of Jul 26, 2016.

The helper was doing laundry at about 11.40pm on Jul 25, 2016, when Prema's daughter, Gaiyathiri Murugayan, felt she was too slow. She hit her, pulled her hair and told her to move faster. When the victim began swaying on her feet at the entrance to the toilet, Gaiyathiri told her not to "dance", before striking her head with a detergent bottle.

The victim fell backwards, grew disorientated and could not stand up after her legs gave out from under her. Gaiyathiri called Prema over, and together they assaulted the victim, splashing water on her. Prema dragged the victim across the kitchen and living room to the bedroom, where Gaiyathiri kicked her in the stomach and Prema punched and strangled her.

When the victim asked Gaiyathiri if she could have dinner, Gaiyathiri replied that she had given her food earlier but she was too sleepy to eat at that time. She could now sleep without dinner, said Gaiyathiri.

She tied the victim's wrist forcefully to the window grille just before midnight and kicked her in the stomach, before leaving her on the floor in wet clothes.

When Gaiyathiri tried to wake the victim up at about 5am, she found that she was unable to do so. Prema was also in the room and tried to wake the victim up. When the victim remained motionless, the two women grew concerned. 

They later called a doctor and lied that they had found the maid on the floor. The doctor told them the maid was dead and asked them to call the police.

Both mother and daughter were later arrested.

Prema, whose case was downgraded from the High Court, initially tried to have her guilty plea adjourned again until after her trial was heard. She is claiming trial to a 49th charge.

However, the judge declined to do so after the prosecution objected, pointing to the “history of the case” and the potential of Prema qualifying her plea.

Her daughter Gaiyathiri had been sentenced to 30 years' jail in 2021. Her appeal for her sentence to be halved was dismissed by the Apex Court.

Source: CNA/ll(rj)


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