Maid grabbed employer's baby's hair to pull her head up, smacked her and handled her roughly

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
August 25, 2022

A maid tasked with caring for a baby was caught assaulting her when her employer viewed a live feed from a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera installed in the child's room.

Sri Eha Santika Sari, who initially denied any wrongdoing when confronted, finally came clean after the 44-year-old man retrieved all of the available CCTV footage and viewed it.

Sri, 29, was jailed for 10 months on Thursday (Aug 25) after she pleaded guilty to assaulting the victim, who was 22 months old at the time.

Details about the baby and her father cannot be disclosed due to a gag order.

Sri started working for the household in December 2020 and they lived in a Bishan flat.

Her employer installed a CCTV camera in his daughter's room to monitor her and ensure that she was sleeping well.

He was viewing a live feed on his mobile phone on Aug 28 last year when he saw Sri grabbing her by the arm and thigh, and swinging her forcefully onto a mattress.

He confronted Sri, who denied any wrongdoing and stopped caring for the baby soon after. Despite this, she continued living in the flat, the court heard.

The child's father alerted the police on Sept 26 last year after viewing all of the CCTV footage. Court documents did not disclose why it took him about a month to do so.

The baby was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital the next day (Sept 27), but no injuries were found on her.

In the course of investigations, Sri admitted that she started handling the victim in a rough manner in June last year, and it often made the baby cry.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana said: "Among other acts, (Sri) would resort to hitting the victim, flicking her on her ears, pulling her by her hair, knocking her on her head, smacking her on her feet, pushing the victim back onto the mattress forcefully when she tried to move away, or pulling her by her hands or feet when the victim was restless or did not sleep."

The court heard that based on the CCTV footage, Sri intentionally caused hurt to the child multiple times between Aug 17 and 28 last year.

Among other things, the maid grabbed the baby's hair to pull her head up.

Sri also pressed the child's head into a pillow and slapped her left cheek.

On Thursday, the DPP urged the court to sentence her to between eight and 10 months' jail.

She said: "The victim was especially and exceptionally vulnerable at only 22 months old, entirely defenceless and in no position to fend for herself, given the gross physical disparity at play and her inability to seek help."

The prosecutor also said that Sri had abused her position of trust when she committed the offences.

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