Singapore

Maid guilty of lesser murder charge over killing of employer

Maid may avoid death penalty over employer's murder

An Indonesian domestic worker who killed her employer at the victim's Telok Kurau house in 2016, leaving the 59-year-old with more than 90 knife wounds, is set to avoid the death penalty.

Yesterday, Daryati, 27, was found guilty of a lesser murder charge, with prosecutors telling the High Court they are not seeking the death sentence.

Daryati was originally on trial for murdering Madam Seow Kim Choo under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty.

The trial was heard for 17 days between April 23 last year and March4 this year, and the prosecution has yet to close its case.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wong Kok Weng told the court the prosecution was proceeding on an amended charge under Section 300(c), which carries life imprisonment or the death sentence.

Daryati did not contest the lesser charge and was convicted on the evidence presented at the trial. A second charge of attempting to murder Madam Seow's husband, Mr Ong Thiam Soon, then 57, will be considered during sentencing.

The case was adjourned for defence counsel Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed to prepare a mitigation plea, after he noted that the court has the discretion to impose the death penalty, in spite of the prosecution's stance on the sentence.

Daryati started working for Madam Seow and her family on April 13, 2016.

Madam Seow lived in a three-storey house with her husband, two adult sons, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

Daryati admitted in court that the family treated her well, but she soon became homesick and missed her lover, who was working in Hong Kong.

She hatched a plan to confront Madam Seow to get back her passport that was kept in a safe and steal money from a locked drawer so she could return home.

A translated entry on May 12, 2016, from her diary read: "I must carry out this plan quickly. I have to be brave even though life is at stake. I am ready to face all risks/consequences... My employer's family is my target. Death!!!"

On June 7, at about 8.30pm,Daryati went up to the master bedroom with a pair of pants she had ironed for Madam Seow. After handing her the pants, Daryati pointed a knife at her employer's neck and demanded her passport back.

When Madam Seow started shouting, Daryati dragged her to the toilet, closed the door and repeatedly slashed and stabbed her neck, head and face until the woman collapsed on the floor.

By this time, Mr Ong used a screwdriver to open the toilet door. When the door opened, Daryati, armed with two knives, stabbed Mr Ong just below the neck. He got her to drop one knife but, when he went to check on Madam Seow, Daryati stabbed him again with the other.

Mr Ong eventually restrained Daryati.

Paramedics pronounced Madam Seow dead at about 9.05pm. An autopsy found at least 94 stab wounds and cuts on her face, scalp, neck and arm.

COURT & CRIME