The wife of a Singapore police officer has admitted in court that she tortured and killed her Burmese domestic worker in 2016. A chilling video was played during the court hearing that showed how the accused grabbed the victim by her hair and shook her like a rag doll.
During the hearing, the 40-year-old Gaiyathiri Murugayan admitted that she had starved and tortured the 24-year-old domestic helper Piang Ngaih Don—who reportedly weighed only 24 kg (53 lb) when she died due to her injuries on July 26, 2016.
The prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for the Singaporean woman after she pleaded guilty to 28 charges, including culpable homicide. They called her actions "evil and utterly inhumane".
10 Months of Abuse
Piang started working for the family on May 28, 2015. She was physically assaulted almost every day for about 10 months. She was not allowed to take proper food and rest.
According to the CCTV footage from cameras installed inside the house, the domestic helper was often being assaulted several times a day. During the last 12 days of her life, Piang was tied to the window grille at night and used to sleep on the floor.
One of the videos showed the couple's one-year-old son who was toddling around while his mother was assaulting Piang. The mother of the accused, 61-years-old Prema S. Naraynasamy, was also seen in the footage as she often used to stay in the flat. As reported, Prema and Gaiyathiri's husband, Kevin Chelvam, are facing multiple charges in connection with the victim.
The defense argued that Gaiyathiri had developed major depressive disorder while she was pregnant with her son and it had triggered her obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The defense lawyer urged for a maximum of 14 years of jail term for the accused.
But prosecutors said that Gaiyathiri's psychiatric condition had already been taken into account when the charge related to her maid's death was reduced from murder to culpable homicide. The sentence will be announced at a later date.
The Myanmar Victim
Piang was the mother of a three-year-old son. It was her first job outside Myanmar. The court heard that the deceased was not allowed to have a mobile phone or have any day off.
The accused was unhappy with Piang's work and felt that she was slow, had poor hygiene practice and used to eat too much food. Gaiyathiri made some rules for Piang and used to shout at her if she felt the worker was not following them properly. But later the accused started to abuse her physically in October 2015.
CCTV footage showed that Gaiyathiri poured cold water on Piang, slapped and kicked her. She also hit the domestic helper with objects like a plastic bottle and metal ladle. She was seen pulling Piang from the ground by her hair. The accused also burned her with a heated iron and choked her.
On July 25, 2016, Gaiyathiri and Prema assaulted Piang together and left her tied to the window without providing dinner. In the early morning on July 26, Gaiyathiri repeatedly kicked and stomped on Piang's head and neck area. At around 7.30 am Piang was unconscious but Gaiyathiri's husband left for work.
Later when Gaiyathiri failed to revive her, she called a nearby clinic and lied that she found Piang on the kitchen floor. Instead of calling an ambulance, both women waited for a doctor to come over. Meanwhile, they changed Piang's wet clothes and carried her to the sofa.
But when a doctor came, Piang was already dead. Even though the doctor asked Gaiyathiri to call the police, she insisted to call her husband first. When asked by the doctors whether the deceased was beaten, the accused denied the claim.
Later, an autopsy report revealed that there was a total of 31 recent scars and 47 external injuries all over the body of the domestic helper. It was also found that repeated choking on July 25 caused the deprivation of oxygen in the brain that led to her death.