SINGAPORE — After finding bruises on her elderly mother, a woman checked closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage only to find that her domestic worker had been assaulting the 85-year-old by shaking her roughly and hitting her multiple times.
The Indonesian worker, Indah Nur Wahyuni, 35, was sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail on Tuesday (Sept 12) after pleading guilty to voluntarily causing hurt to a vulnerable person by hitting her hand and back.
A similar charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that Indah was employed in January this year by Ms Judy Cheryl Yeong to look after her mother, Madam Leong Fong Har, who suffers from severe dementia and is non-communicative.
Having received training at the employment agency on how to care for seniors and young children, Indah was entrusted with the care of Madam Leong.
On the evening of March 8, Ms Yeong was caring for her mother when she noticed bruises on Mdm Leong’s left hand and confronted Indah about it.
The helper initially denied hitting the victim but admitted when Ms Yeong told her that she was going to take her mother for a medical check-up.
Ms Yeong then told her to help apply ointment on Mdm Leong’s bruises.
Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) Lydia Goh said that Ms Yeong then decided to review the footage from a CCTV installed in the house.
The footage, lasting about 11 minutes and recorded on March 6, showed Indah and Mdm Leong during meal time where Indah could be seen rough handling the older woman. The clip was played in court.
Some of these rough treatment included Indah using both hands to roughly move Madam Leong’s head left and right, using one hand to shake Mdm Leong multiple times, and hitting her back twice.
Ms Yeong also reviewed footage from March 7, which showed Indah pushing her mother’s forehead. This conduct was the subject of the charge taken into consideration.
Traumatised by what she had seen, Ms Yeong contacted the agent for the domestic worker and sent him a copy of the footage, informing him that she no longer wished to employ Indah.
The agent went the next morning on March 9 to take the worker back to the agency.
Indah was arrested on Aug 29.
During investigations, she admitted to hitting and pushing Mdm Leong after she was shown the recorded footage.
At the time of the incident, she knew that Madam Leong was a vulnerable person because she was unable to speak or protect herself from abuse, APP Goh said.
Indah also told the police that she was treated well by her employer but did not give any reason why she assaulted the victim.
‘CLEAR BREACH OF TRUST’
Seeking 10 to 12 weeks’ jail for the offence, APP Goh said that Indah was entrusted with taking care of Madam Leong but had abused that trust.
She added that the sentence given should appropriately reflect the aggravated nature of Indah’s cruel action and send a message to the public that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
In sentencing, District Judge Prem Raj said that there was a clear breach of trust as Mdm Leong was a good 50 years older than Indah and was, as the prosecution stated, “helpless”.
The judge emphasised that just as the law comes down hard on those who abuse their domestic workers, the law must also come down hard on these workers who abuse people under their care.
He added that he would have imposed a higher sentence if not for her early plea of guilty.
For voluntarily causing hurt, Indah could have been jailed for up to three years or fined up to S$5,000, or both.
For causing hurt to a vulnerable person, she could have faced up to twice that penalty.