Singapore

Employer acquitted of causing hurt as maid was found not credible

Judge finds domestic helper's testimony 'convoluted and fraught with contradictions'

The domestic helper her husband hired in July 2015 was their sixth in 14 months.

She yelled at the helper and made her stand outside the flat to punish her.

But a district judge was not convinced that beautician Wong Poh Yin had kicked her maid, causing bruises.

Noting that the maid's testimony in court was "convoluted and fraught with contradictions" and that she gave "ridiculous answers" to some of the questions put to her, District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam acquitted Madam Wong of two charges of kicking her domestic helper on her legs and causing hurt.

"All round, I found her (the alleged victim) to be an unreliable witness and concluded it was unsafe to place any weight whatsoever on her testimony," added the judge in judgment grounds released last week.

The judge held there was no other evidence to support the charges.

She noted that several key facts, such as those in relation to the medical evidence, were undisputed but Madam Wong and the maid were the only two witnesses who could provide direct evidence in relation to the commission of the offences.

Hence credibility of the two was a key issue, added the judge.

The domestic helper, Ms Marnellie Rebutoc Villaram, 39, began work with Madam Wong and her family at their four-room HDB flat in Clementi on July 19, 2015.

Madam Wong, 32, a mother of two, freelanced out of her home as a beautician.

Six weeks after Ms Marnellie - a college graduate and former teacher in the Philippines - started work with her, Madam Wong sent her back to the agency as she wanted her replaced.

After Ms Marnellie arrived at the agency on Sept 5, 2015, the police received a call saying that she had been injured by her employer.

Following a police probe, Madam Wong was hauled to court on two charges, but District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam found her not guilty last July. The decision grounds were released last week.

While medical evidence did show two bruises to Ms Marnellie's right thigh, the medical officer, when cross-examined by defence lawyer Chu Hua Yi, agreed that the bruises could have been sustained on account of a kick, an accident or could even be self-inflicted.

The judge found Ms Marnellie was unable to explain exactly how she had been kicked and noted that her evidence lacked details.

The medical officer's testimony also contradicted Ms Marnellie's evidence and the sequence of events on Sept 3, 2015, did not support her allegations, the judge found.

The prosecution is appealing the case.

COURT & CRIME