Maid sees 'Satan' before strangling girl
Indonesian woman sentenced to 12 years' jail for killing employer's teenage daughter
Severely depressed and mentally ill, she began hearing voices and hallucinating.
She allegedly saw "Satan" who instructed her to kill her employer's 16-year-old daughter.
So Indonesian maid Tuti Aeliyah stabbed Shameera Basha four times with a knife before strangling the girl to death with her school uniform.
Yesterday, Tuti, 30, was sentenced to 12 years' jail for culpable homicide not amounting to murder for killing the Secondary 4 student from Tanjong Katong Girls' School at her Tampines HDB flat on Nov 14, 2013.
Court papers said Tuti began working for Shameera's family in April 2012.
Things went smoothly until a few months before November 2013. That was when Tuti began to act differently. She stopped eating properly, lost weight and refused to phone home.
She also would not respond to her employer's attempts to counsel or speak to her.
Two weeks before the incident, Tuti told a neighbour's maid that she wanted to end her life.
While she did not explain her reasons, she was observed to be sad and looking blank.
On the morning of Nov 14, 2013, Shameera's parents and brother left the flat.
It was at this time that Tuti said she saw "Satan" in a mirror.
At about 8am, she took a knife from the kitchen drawer and entered the bedroom where Shameera was asleep.
She then took a pillow and tried to smother the girl.
A struggle ensued and Tuti stabbed Shameera's chest and abdomen more than four times with the knife.
Shameera became weak, fell off the bed and onto the floor.
Tuti then took the girl's dark green school pinafore and looped it around the teen's neck a few times before pulling hard on both ends. She only released her grip after Shameera stopped moving.
Tuti then left the bedroom and went back to the kitchen, where she drank half a cup of fabric softener and cut her wrist using a knife.
She also tried to hang herself using a cloth in the kitchen toilet but backed out as it was too painful.
At about 12.30pm, Shameera's mother returned home and saw Tuti, who had showered and changed her clothes, walking out of the kitchen.
Tuti then told the mother in Malay that she had murdered Shameera.
Shocked, Shameera's mother left the flat to seek help from a neighbour.
When police officers arrived at the unit, they found a laptop that belonged to Shameera's father, a white iPhone and a black cordless phone submerged in a pail of water.
Police also recovered a knife with a 14cm blade from the kitchen and a plastic bag containing a bag of blood-stained pyjamas hanging from the window.
An autopsy report stated that Shameera died from strangulation, even though she suffered many wounds - including the four stab wounds and other superficial injuries - all over her body.
An Institute of Mental Health psychologist found that Tuti was suffering from severe depression with psychotic symptoms.
Even though she was not of unsound mind at the time of the incident, her judgment was significantly impaired due to her mental illness.
Upon further assessment, Tuti was found to be at low risk of committing violence against others even though she was very likely to take her own life.
Court papers said there were no reports that she was abused or ill-treated.
Yesterday, defence counsel Nasser Ismail said in mitigation that his client had been under a lot of stress due to financial and relationship problems back in Indonesia.
He said that she had heard "Satan" - who told her to kill Shameera.
In sentencing, Justice Woo Bih Li noted Tuti's mental illness.
But he said there was no running away from the fact that she killed an innocent girl, who had done her no wrong, and who was asleep.
After she was sentenced, Tuti told the court that she was sorry for what she had done and wanted to apologise to Shameera's family.
When The New Paper visited the Tampines flat yesterday, no one answered the door, even though sounds could be heard coming from inside.
Tuti could have been jailed for life or imprisoned up to 20 years with a fine.
She told maid agency she was possessed
Tuti Aeliyah was facing immense stress during her stint here - borne from financial pressure from back home, said her lawyer, Mr Nasser Ismail, in mitigation yesterday.
Tuti, who is the fifth of nine children, was the sole breadwinner for her family. Her elderly parents are poor farmers in their village in West Java, Indonesia.
After a miscarriage in 2011, Tuti, who worked as a babysitter for 10 years in Indonesia, came to Singapore to work.
But she was under constant pressure and her estranged husband and mother-in-law continually demanded money from her, Mr Nasser said.
But even so, he pointed out that Tuti's employers had told the Institute of Mental Health psychologist that their maid had been a good worker, polite and efficient.
It was only about eight to 10 months before the incident that Tuti began acting strange, he said.
In July 2013, she told her Indonesian maid agency that she believed she was possessed.
Tuti also claimed that she could see ghosts since she was 10, and these "ghosts" reappeared regularly after December 2013, Mr Nasser said.
As a result, she felt scared and lost her appetite and motivation to work, he added.
Three nights before the incident, Tuti tried to kill herself by stabbing and strangulation but stopped because it was too painful, he said.
The night before the offence, she dreamt of her dead grandmother asking her to "join her in heaven". Again, Tuti tried to kill herself but failed.
The next day, Nov 14, 2013, at about 7.30am, she was in the kitchen toilet and became petrified - she claimed she saw "Satan" in the toilet mirror, Mr Nasser said.
After yet another botched attempt to kill herself, she found Shameera Basha's ez-link card in the kitchen and on the spur of the moment, she picked up the card and a knife and went into the girl's room.
It was then that "Satan" told Tuti to kill the girl so that she would have company in heaven.
After doing so, she tried killing herself yet again but without success.
Mr Nasser also said that his client did not make any attempt to flee the flat and immediately told the employer what she had done.
After the incident, Tuti's husband deserted her after she had stopped sending money to him, Mr Nasser added.
Her 70-year-old father, Mr Rodi, who goes by only one name, was also in court yesterday after he was flown in with the help of Tuti's maid agency and the Indonesian embassy on Sunday night.
After the hearing, he was seen speaking to his daughter, who was sobbing.
Later outside the courtroom, he told reporters in Bahasa Indonesia that he had told Tuti to obey the rules in prison and had assured her that the family is well back home.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said that he had used the money that Tuti remitted to buy a plot of land for farming.
He thanked the court for not imposing the life sentence.
- Samaritans Of Singapore (SOS) 1800-221-4444
- Singapore Association For Mental Health 1800-283-7019
- Touch Counselling & Social Support 6709-8400
- Care Corner Counselling Centre 1800-3535-800
- Mental Health Helpline 6389-2222