Couple who abused maid ordered to pay her $7,800

High Court sets out general compensation principles in maid abuse case

A couple convicted and jailed for abusing their maid were ordered to pay her $7,800 in compensation in a case where the High Court set out the general principles underpinning compensation and how they apply in a maid abuse case.

Tay Wee Kiat, 39, whose aggregate jail term was raised to 43 months in March on the prosecution's appeal, was ordered to pay $5,900, while his wife, Chia Yun Ling, 41, whose jail term remained at two months on appeal, was ordered to pay $1,900.

The sums payable underscored the Attorney-General's push to speak for victims like maids who are without voice through seeking higher sentencing benchmarks for the offences and getting compensation for the victims.

In March, when delivering its judgment grounds for the couple's appeal, the court laid out a sentencing framework for maid abuse cases after reviewing the benchmarks.

On Tuesday, the court issued its supplementary judgment grounds on the compensation issue.

The couple had been first convicted and sentenced in a district court for the "humiliating and degrading abuse" of their Indonesian maid, Ms Fitriyah, 33. They appealed to the High Court last November against their conviction, while the prosecution appealed for higher jail terms.

Among other things, Tay had forced Ms Fitriyah to stand on one leg on a stool while holding another stool in her hand. She was made to maintain the position for half an hour, with a small plastic bottle shoved into her mouth.

He had also hit the maid with three canes bundled together and had made Ms Fitriyah and another maid slap each other 10 times.

Chia was found guilty of slapping and punching Ms Fitriyah.

The couple are currently on trial for abusing another maid, Myanmar national Moe Moe Than, 28.

The three-judge High Court appeal panel comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang and Justice See Kee Oon affirmed their convictions in March but raised Tay's jail term to 43 months from 28 months.

"We consider it appropriate to compensate (the victim) for the physical and psychological injuries inflicted by the offenders for which they would have been liable in tort," wrote Justice See on the court's behalf.

The prosecution led by Solicitor-General and Senior Counsel Kwek Mean Luck suggested $500 for each incidence of abuse. The court agreed, and held that since Tay hurt the victim on 10 occasions, this translated to $5,000, while for Chia, the sum was $1,000.

The court added that she be further paid $1,800, for loss of her monthly wage of $450 for four months.