A 40-year-old Indian-origin woman in Singapore has pleaded guilty to torturing her 24-year-old Myanmarese-origin maid to death, even as the prosecution said that she abused, starved, tortured and ultimately killed her in a manner that would shock anyone’s conscience. Five months into her new maid’s employment, Gaiyathiri Murugayan began abusing her, punching and stamping on her and starving her until she was only 24-kgs, reported Channel News Asia.
Days before Piang Ngaih Don died of a brain injury with severe blunt trauma to her neck, she was starved and tied to a window grille at night and assaulted if she tried to rummage for food from the dustbin, the report said. Gaiyathiri, who could be jailed for life, has pleaded guilty to 28 charges, including culpable homicide, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by starvation, voluntarily causing hurt by a heated substance and wrongful restraint that eventually led to the death of her maid from Myanmar, the report said.
Another 87 charges will be considered in sentencing. The court heard that the victim came to Singapore to work for Gaiyathiri in May 2015 in what was her first job overseas as she was poor and needed to support her three-year-old son.
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, the report said. An autopsy found 31 recent scars and 47 external injuries on the victim’s body. She had died of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy – a type of brain injury – with severe blunt trauma to the neck. She was emaciated and in a poor nutritional state and would have died of starvation if it had been sustained further, according to the report.
The prosecution, led by Senior Counsel Mohamed Faizal, asked for life imprisonment, saying that this is the only sentence “that would speak to the harms that have been occasioned and the outrage felt by the community by such a shocking series of events”. He said Gaiyathiri abused, starved, tortured and ultimately killed the helper in a manner that would shock anyone’s conscience, according to the report.
Parties will return at a later date for sentencing. The penalties for culpable homicide not amounting to murder are life imprisonment and caning, or up to 20 years’ jail, a fine and caning. Women cannot be caned. Prema’s case is pending, while Gaiyathiri’s husband also faces pending charges for maid abuse.