A female employer who was convicted of abusing two maids at her home in Sentosa Cove was sentenced to 10 months in jail and ordered to pay compensation to the two victims.
Accused Tan Lee Hoon, 58, faces a total of eight counts of wounding with intent. The court found the accused guilty of seven of the charges last month after two years of trial.
Defense lawyers said the accused intends to appeal the conviction and sentence.
The court heard that the accused repeatedly abused the 41-year-old victim, including pinching the victim’s arms, chest, abdomen and thighs. The accused also physically assaulted another 35-year-old victim, including hitting her on the head and kicking her in the chest.
The case came to light after one of the maids reported it to the Ministry of Manpower in October 2018.
The court earlier heard that one of the maids was asked to work through the night and added that she was pinched when her employer’s wife found her massages unsatisfactory.
Jenefer Vegafria Arangote, 39, said that she would work through the night and only sleep at 1 pm or 2 pm and wake up at 5 pm or 6 pm daily. She worked for the accused, Tan Lee Hoon, for three months at her multi-million dollar Paradise Island home.
Tan’s husband, Sim Guan Huat, also employed 33-year-old Lizardo Joan Lozares as a maid in October 2015, before hiring Ms Arangote as a domestic helper in August 2018.
In court, Ms Arangote said that her chores included cleaning the house, cooking, gardening, as well as massaging Tan daily until the woman fell asleep.
She also said that she had no days off in the three months that she worked for the household.
Ms Arangote alleged that sometime in October 2018 when she was massaging Tan in her bedroom at around 10 am or 11 am before Tan went to bed, the latter pinched her.
“When I started massaging her, she was not happy (with) the way I did it to her. Then she got angry with me, that’s why she pinched me,” said Ms Arangote. She added that both her and Ms Lozares would take turns massaging Tan until she fell asleep.
The first time, Tan allegedly pinched Ms Arangote twice on her shoulders. The pinches left “blue marks” on Ms Arangote’s shoulders. During another massage, Tan allegedly pinched the upper right part of Ms Arangote’s chest twice. After a few days, Ms Arangote noticed a bruise in the area.
During a third incident, Ms Arangote was arranging paper lanterns on a tree when she accidentally knocked over a statue, angering Tan. Tan then pinched her on the back of her thigh, said Ms Arangote.
There was a fourth incident when Tan allegedly pinched the maid on her inner forearm with her fingernails.
Tan was accused of pinching Ms Arangote’s right bicep, stomach, chest, arm and thigh in September 2018. She is accused of hitting Ms Lozares’ head with her hand and kicking her chest in October 2018, as well as hitting her torso with a stick on another occasion that year.
Ms Arangote took photos of all the bruises and kept them on her phone. However, once after confiscating Ms Arangote’s phone, Tan asked for the phone’s password and checked her photo gallery.
Ms Arangote eventually got her phone back from her agent, but the photos had been deleted.
Tan was convicted for seven out of eight charges of voluntarily causing hurt by the district courts last month and was granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal for the remaining charge.
In sentencing Tan for the seven charges, District Judge Salina Ishak said on Friday that a custodial sentence is usually warranted in cases that involved physical abuse of domestic helpers.
Given their vulnerable status, there was a need for public deterrence against abuse by employers towards their helpers, she said.