SINGAPORE — A Singaporean woman who beat her Indonesian maid with a meat pounder until one of the victim's teeth was chipped off was jailed 15 months on Tuesday (16 March).
Mun Sau Yeng, 41, had initially asked Yuni Dwi Lestari to punch herself in the mouth as a form of punishment. When Mun saw that the 25-year-old's teeth had not fallen out, she then told the victim to hit her teeth with the meat pounder 50 times, which caused three teeth to be loosened.
That was not enough for Mun, who then used the meat pounder to hit the maid’s teeth. It was only after one of the maid's teeth was chipped off that Mun decided to leave the victim alone.
Mun pleaded guilty in March last year to charges of causing hurt to the maid. A separate hearing was then fixed to assess Mun's psychiatric issues, during which Mun disputed the facts of the case.
Her initial plea was then rejected and she admitted afresh to two charges of voluntarily causing hurt and one of voluntarily causing hurt with a weapon on Tuesday. Four other charges of voluntarily causing hurt were taken into consideration for Mun's sentencing.
Mitigating for Mun, lawyer James Joseph submitted for a jail term of a year based on Mun's psychiatric disorders – including obsessive compulsive disorder – and that she was a first offender who had pleaded guilty.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Colin Ng noted that Mun also suffered from depression at the time of her offences. However, he also pointed out that an Institute of Mental Health report had been premised on Mun claiming she heard an inner voice that told her to hit the victim, and that there was "no objective way to determine the existence of these voices".
Mun's conditions were also a contributory factor to her offences, rather than its cause, the prosecution noted, while seeking a 15-month jail term for Mun.
Abused across 2018 and 2019
Yuni had been working for Mun since April 2018 – two months before the abuse began.
In November 2018, Yuni wanted to eat a can of sardines for lunch, which caused Mun to become angry as she had intended for Yuni to eat the sardines for dinner instead.
Mun then punched Yuni several times on both cheeks. She then instructed the maid to punch herself in the same areas about 50 times. She believed the maid would remember the pain better if she punched herself.
Though reluctant, the maid complied and was made to count the punches. Even after her cheeks bruised and swelled, Mun did not take her to see a doctor as she knew she was in the wrong. Mun even told Yuni to tilt her head for the rest of the day to hide her injuries from Mun's husband.
On 3 February last year, after noticing fingerprints on the kitchen windows, Mun instructed the maid to clean off the markings.
However, Mun still noticed fingerprints the next day. She then confronted Yuni and shouted, “I want your teeth drop one!”.
“Her intent was to see one of the victim’s teeth to be dislodged and to ‘drop’ onto the floor,” said DPP Ng.
The maid pleaded with Mun to spare her teeth and said her parents would pay Mun some money, but to no avail.
Mun told Yuni to pull down her lower lip and punch her own teeth with her other hand. The maid did so for 15 minutes until her lips began to swell.
When Mun noticed that the Yuni's teeth were still intact, Mun told her to use a meat pounder from the kitchen drawer. Yuni was then made to hit her own teeth with the meat pounder some 50 times until she felt three teeth loosen.
However, Mun was still not satisfied and took the meat pounder, pulled down the maid’s lower lip with a piece of tissue and hit her teeth once. This caused a tooth from Yuni's lower jaw to be chipped off. After Yuni picked up the piece of her tooth, Mun told her to throw it away before leaving her alone.
Yuni was not taken to see a doctor afterwards as Mun was afraid of getting into trouble.
In another incident on 7 February last year, Mun returned home and found dust in the flat. She then punched Yuni's mouth about 10 times, causing Yuni to bleed and her teeth to become loosene
d once again.
Mun later asked Yuni to apply ointment to her injuries but did not take her to a doctor.
Unable to tolerate the abuse, Yuni called the Centre for Domestic Employees on 15 February. She was taken to a hospital on the same day and was found with facial bruises and a chipped tooth.
Voluntarily causing hurt carries a jail term of up to two years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both, while voluntarily causing hurt with a weapon carries a jail term of up to seven years along with a possible fine and caning. As Mun had caused hurt to a domestic worker employed in her household, she can be punished with up to one-and-a-half times of the prescribed punishment for the aforementioned offences.
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