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The Straits Times
January 4, 2023
A woman who abused her domestic helper applied foundation to the victim’s face to cover up some bruises when police officers arrived at her home.
Deepakala Chandra Secharan’s offences came to light when a policeman later noticed the victim, Ms Eni Agustin, had thick foundation on her face. The bruises resurfaced when Ms Eni wiped away the make-up. She then told the officers about her ordeal.
On Wednesday, District Judge Ow Yong Tuck Leong convicted Deepakala, 38, of three counts of assault involving Ms Eni following a trial.
In their submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutors Yang Ziliang and Chong Ee Hsiun said Ms Eni started working at Deepakala’s Woodlands flat on Dec 9, 2019.
She was abused 16 days later after she mixed up some cutlery while placing the items in a kitchen drawer. Deepakala became angry when she saw this and repeatedly poked Ms Eni’s forehead with her index finger, causing a scratch.
On April 23, 2020, she used a wooden clothes hanger to hit Ms Eni until it broke. The next day, Deepakala flew into a rage when the maid could not find masking tape.
The prosecutors said: “The accused then took a nearly depleted roll of masking tape... and hit the victim’s forehead with it.”
She then asked Ms Eni how long it would take her to clean a pathway in the flat. When the maid replied it would take her 30 minutes, Deepakala got angry and slapped Ms Eni’s cheeks multiple times.
She stopped only after her husband separated the pair. Deepakala later hit the maid’s right arm and back with a stick.
On April 25, 2020, Ms Eni was hanging laundry from the kitchen window on the eighth storey when another maid in a lower unit saw her.
The DPPs said the other maid gestured to ask why Ms Eni had bruises on her face, and Ms Eni replied by demonstrating a motion of hitting oneself to indicate her employer had hit her.
The other maid used a “calling gesture” to suggest alerting the authorities for help. After some hesitation, Ms Eni nodded her head in agreement.
The other maid called the Centre for Domestic Employees, which alerted the police, and officers arrived at Deepakala’s flat later that day.
When Deepakala realised the police were at her doorstep, she took Ms Eni to a bathroom.
“The accused then brought an ice pack for the victim and instructed the victim to lie to the police about the origin of the injuries,” the DPPs said.
“The accused told the victim to tell the police the injuries were sustained by the victim when she underwent a traditional body-scratching treatment.”
Deepakala then applied make-up on Ms Eni’s face to cover up the bruises. As Ms Eni hid in the bathroom, Deepakala lied to the officers that Ms Eni was with Deepakala’s parents in Yishun.
Deepakala, her husband and the maid then went to Yishun while the officers drove there separately. They were at Block 403 Yishun Avenue 6 when a policeman saw heavy foundation on Ms Eni’s face.
The bruises were visible after she wiped away the make-up. The officers then took her back to the Woodlands flat to pack her belongings so she could be relocated to a safer place.
Deepakala, who is represented by lawyer Kalaithasan Karuppaya, denied hitting Ms Eni. According to court documents, she instead alleged that the maid’s injuries were self-inflicted.
The prosecutors said: “She alleged that the victim was upset with her for wanting to send the victim back to her home country, and that the victim was trying to garner sympathy for herself.”
Deepakala’s mitigation and sentencing will take place on Feb 6.