Woman who assaulted maid in front of son and cut her salary over mistakes gets jail, fine

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
May 30, 2022

A woman who repeatedly assaulted a domestic helper, at times in front of her then four-year-old son, was on Monday (May 30) sentenced to five months' jail and a fine of $1,000.

On top of the physical abuse, Zhao Lin, who was working as a nurse at the time, also slashed the Myanmar national's salary of $500 to $200 a month over mistakes the helper had made.

On April 4, Zhao, now 35, pleaded guilty to four counts of voluntarily causing hurt and a mischief charge. Another four assault charges were considered during sentencing.

The court heard that the 29-year-old maid came to Singapore in early 2016 and began working for Zhao, who was her first employer.

The helper's responsibilities included performing household chores and taking care of Zhao's son.

The abuse started in mid-2017, with Zhao occasionally hitting the maid's body when she was not happy with the victim's work or attitude.

On Aug 25, 2018, Zhao told the maid that her son's toys had not been put away properly.

She then proceeded to slap the maid's cheeks 10 times, causing the latter to stagger backwards after each blow.

Zhao also threatened the victim, saying: "I will do it until you are really, really scared."

In an earlier proceeding, Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia said: "Subsequently, the victim teared and cried quietly alone as she felt sad."

At around 4.30pm that day, Zhao repeatedly slapped the victim again and shouted at her.

Zhao also said: "If you do wrong things, I will straightaway (give) two slaps (to) you. You better go and think. Think first. Think first and do."

When the maid replied to her comments, Zhao got furious and hit her face and arm. She also kicked the maid's leg.

Zhao's son, who had witnessed the assault, asked his mother: "Why did you hit sister?"

Zhao then replied: "Sister did wrong, sister hit mum."

Unable to stay silent about the abuse any longer, the maid called the police at 5.15pm that day. Zhao hit her again after the call ended .

Police officers arrived soon after and they asked to view closed-circuit television footage in the home. Zhao, however, refused to comply with their request.

Her husband, who arrived at the scene later, then helped the officers with it.

The maid went to hospital where she was found to have a bruised forehead and multiple abrasions.

Separately, Zhao also committed an act of mischief by throwing the maid's mobile phone on the floor some time in mid-2018, damaging the device.

Zhao's bail was set at $15,000 on Monday and she will be starting her jail sentence on June 13.

The maximum punishment for each count of voluntarily causing hurt is a two-year jail term and a $5,000 fine. If the offence is committed against a domestic worker, the employer may receive 1½ times the highest penalty.

For mischief, an offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined.

The Straits Times

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