SINGAPORE, Aug 16 — A 25-year-old domestic worker went on trial on Monday (Aug 16) over allegations that she had abused her employer’s infant daughter by scratching her legs and cutting the tips of two milk bottle teats with the intention of causing the girl to choke.
Nenti, who goes by one name, faces one charge of voluntarily causing hurt to the infant and two counts of committing mischief.
The Indonesian is represented by defence counsel Josephine Costan from law firm David Nayar and Associates.
The girl was aged four months old when Nenti allegedly abused her in the employers’ public housing flat along Punggol Drive in August 2019.
Her father, who was the first prosecution witness on the stand, testified on Monday about what he and his wife had discovered just a week after Nenti began working for them.
The couple — both civil servants — hired Nenti in late July 2019 to take care of their daughter and perform household chores. She was their first domestic helper.
The girl’s father testified that Nenti had three meals a day and did not have a mobile phone, but they gave her their phone to contact her family in Indonesia if she wanted to do so.
The father testified that on the evening of August 7, 2019, he was on his way back from work when his wife called him, saying she had noticed scratch marks on their daughter’s leg.
When he got home, he saw the marks “more prominently on the lower right leg” above the girl’s ankle, as well as lighter scratch marks similarly on her left leg.
“I would say they were inflicted on the day itself because they were still reddish. It wasn’t like there was dried up blood,” he further testified.
They questioned Nenti if she had seen the marks and if she inflicted them, accidentally or not. She denied doing it.
The couple then wondered if the girl could have scratched her own legs. But when they took her to a nearby paediatrician that evening, the doctor told them she could not have reached her own legs at that age.
The girl’s father testified that he and his wife then raised the possibility of physical abuse, and the doctor referred them to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
The couple could not sleep that night and decided to take the baby to the hospital immediately.
They also decided to call the police.
Officers arrived at about 3am, spoke to Nenti and took her away. The couple then took their daughter to KKH.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Samuel Chew asked the father who he thought had caused the scratches.
He responded: “Based on my assessment, since I wasn’t home at that point of time and my daughter couldn’t have reached the lower part of her limbs, and my wife wasn’t the one who did it If you would also like to factor in whether our dog could reach my daughter, it couldn’t as she was in the cot. I would say there’s only one person, who is Nenti.
“That’s why my wife and I have been having this suspicion and postulated that she was the one who did it.”
The family dog, a maltese-shih tzu mix, was not tall enough to reach the elevated cot that also had handrails around it, he clarified.
The girl’s father testified that after Nenti left their household, they discovered two of the baby’s milk bottle teats had been “enlarged” and he suspected that the openings had been cut.
“It didn’t seem to be a manufacturing defect because the brand itself is well-known for baby products,” he said.
“After being a parent for two years and my daughter is still using the same brand — we’ve also changed the teat on numerous occasions — till date, I have not noticed anything of such.”
The prosecution played three closed-circuit television footage (CCTV) clips from the kitchen which showed Nenti handling the baby’s bottles.
The CCTV clips showed Nenti “playing close attention to and squeezing” the teats while assembling the bottles, the father noted, adding that this was not something he nor his wife taught her to do.
“In my opinion, if you (put) everything together Our postulation is that she tampered with the tip of the teats. As such, during the assembly of some bottles, she is taking notice and checking which bottles have tampered teats,” he said.
When DPP Chew asked why this concerned them, he replied that the teat tips are designed to control milk flow for children and “helps prevent choking”.
The trial continues on Monday afternoon with Nenti’s lawyer cross-examining the father.
If convicted of voluntarily causing hurt, she could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$5,000, or both.
If convicted of mischief, she could be jailed for up to a year or fined, or both. — TODAY