Singapore

Lawyer argues maid accused of murder not fit to give police statements

The lawyer defending an Indonesian domestic worker accused of murdering her employer contended in court yesterday that the maid was distressed when photographs of her left breast were taken by a male police officer.

Daryati, then 23, was feeling giddy, nauseous and in pain from injuries to her hand. She was in a state of "oppression" at the time and therefore not fit to give a statement to the police that day, argued Mr Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed.

Daryati, who turns 27 today, is on trial for stabbing and slashing Madam Seow Kim Choo on June 7, 2016, at her Telok Kurau home, leaving the 59-year-old woman with 98 knife wounds.

In statements to the police, Daryati admitted she slit Madam Seow's neck and stabbed her face and neck multiple times. The defence is arguing that seven of the nine statements, taken between June 8 and July 26, 2016, had not been given voluntarily and hence cannot be admitted as evidence.

An ancillary hearing to determine the admissibility of the statements began yesterday, starting with the first statement recorded while Daryati was in hospital. She had suffered injuries and was taken to Changi General Hospital on the same day as the killing.

The next day, forensic pathologist Cuthbert Teo was asked by the police to examine the injuries that Daryati sustained on her hands. Photographs were also taken to document the injuries.

Dr Teo testified the maid consented to the examination and photography. He said he asked her if she had any other injuries on her body and sought her specific consent to undress her.

A police photographer took about 40 photographs of her injuries, including two of abrasions around her left breast. Dr Teo said she did flinch while being undressed, but did not cry or object to the examination. He told her he would stop if she was not comfortable.

About an hour after the examination, a statement was taken from her by Assistant Superintendent Mahathir Mohamad. ASP Mahathir, testifying in court, said the maid sobbed at times, but he checked with her that she was all right.

Superintendent Burhanudeen Haji Hussainar, who was also present, told the court she was alert and able to articulate her responses and pause for thought. He said he did not think she had any objection to a male photographer.

When Mr Muzammil asked why there was no sensitivity to the gender, Supt Burhanudeen said the initial intention was to take photos of her hand injuries. He said no statement would have been taken if she had said she was not okay.

COURT & CRIME