SINGAPORE, Nov 3 — Wanting her employer’s 13-month-old daughter to sleep through the night and not disturb her, a domestic worker mixed a muscle relaxant tablet into the girl’s milk and fed it to her.
For her actions, the 32-year-old from Indonesia was jailed for six months yesterday. She pleaded guilty to a single charge of causing hurt to the victim by means of poison or stupefying substance.
The baby was ultimately not harmed by what the worker did. She cannot be named as it is the subject of a court order.
On December 5 last year, her employer told her to feed milk to the baby. She had worked for the household for about 14 months before this and had no complaints, save that she was tired from looking after the child.
However, she did not tell her employer this.
She retrieved the milk bottle, which contained about 100ml of milk, then went to her own bedroom and took an Anarex pill that she had stored in a cupboard for her own consumption.
She knew that the drug, which is usually prescribed for fever, headaches and body aches, could cause drowsiness because she had taken it herself before. It contains paracetamol and a drug called orphenadrine citrate.
She then put the pill in the milk and went to the master bedroom to feed the child, hoping the baby would sleep through the night and she would not have to wake up to care for her.
The infant drank most of the milk and fell asleep after about 20 minutes. The helper then placed her back into the cot and went to the kitchen to wash the bottle.
Her employer’s niece then spotted something blue in the bottle and told her aunt, who questioned the helper upon seeing the tablet.
The worker lied out of fear, saying that she did not know what it was, before the other woman tasted the tablet and questioned her again. She then admitted to lacing the milk with the drug and apologised.
The employer then called the police, saying her helper had put Panadol in her child’s milk.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Grace Teo sought the sentence imposed, arguing that the worker had planned her actions and committed a “gross abuse of trust”, having cared for the infant since birth.
In mitigation, the worker — who appeared in court via video-link and did not have a lawyer — said through an interpreter that she had no intention of ill-will and only wanted the child to rest so that she herself could rest.
She added that she had been held at the Indonesian embassy for 10 months before she was remanded in prison on Oct 1. Her father back in Indonesia died three days after she was remanded.
She also said that she is the sole breadwinner of her family, with her mother recently contracted Covid-19. Her husband has left her and she has to send money to her children back home, she said.
“I understand what I did was wrong. Therefore, I seek forgiveness and hope I will (get) a lighter sentence,” she told the court.
In sentencing her, Principal District Judge Victor Yeo said it was fortunate that no permanent harm was caused to the victim, or the sentence imposed would have been much higher than what the prosecution asked for.
For causing hurt by poison or stupefying substance, the worker could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. Offenders can also be caned but women are exempt from caning. — TODAY