Penang couple escapes death sentence after starving maid until she died; get 10 years' jail instead

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Store owner Soh Chew Tong and his wife Chin Chui Ling were previously convicted of the murder of their maid, Mey Sichan. However, Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif convicted them of committing culpable homicide instead of murder.

The 24-year-old victim had started working for the couple in July 2011, after which she was tortured and starved by her employers. She was found dead at their shophouse.

Investigation revealed that she was extremely dehydrated prior to her death. There were also fresh injuries on her body, along with sunken cheeks and eye sockets. The victim weighed merely 26.1 kg at the time of her death.

Initially, Soh and Chin were found guilty of the murder of Mey at their house in Taman Asas Murni, Jalan Bukit Minyak in Bukit Mertajam, Penang between January 1 and April 1, 2012, reports Star Online.

On October 7, 2015, the couple was given a death sentence for the crime after the Court of Appeal restored their conviction to the original murder charge. Then, the Sessions Court in Penang gave them a 24-year jail term on May 16, 2013, for culpable homicide.

Counsel Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, the couple's lawyer, requested the court to impose a lesser sentence as they had displayed remorse for their actions. When the court proceedings were adjourned after the five-member judges' panel announced the verdict, the couple seemed relieved and hugged their family members, before being taken to the court lock-up.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud, however, said that the couple had tortured their domestic help over a period of time and should be given a strict sentence to set an example before the public.

The couple's other lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran, on the other hand, said that because the couple was in custody for three years and have got a one-third remission for good behavior, they would only serve four-and-a-half more years in jail.