Myanmar maid’s death: Employer hires new lawyer, wants to reduce culpable homicide charge

Myanmar maid's death: Employer hires new lawyer, wants to reduce culpable homicide charge

SINGAPORE: A woman who killed her 24-year-old Myanmar housekeeper after being beaten to 24 kg, burned and starved to death has hired a new lawyer and is moving for a reduced charge and a gag warrant on her case.

Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 41, pleaded guilty to 28 charges in February, including culpable murder, voluntarily causing serious injury from starvation, voluntarily causing injuries from a heated substance, and improper restraint. Another 87 charges will be considered in the sentencing.

The prosecution said at the time that they had applied for life imprisonment for Gaiyathiri’s actions.

Gaiyathiri was originally charged with murder on the recommendation of the Attorney General, but based on the exposed evidence, this was culpable of murder.

Ms. Piang Ngaih Don came to Singapore in May 2015 to work for Gaiyathiri in her first overseas job.

Five months after Ms. Piang Ngaih Don was hired, Gaiyathiri began to physically abuse her. For the last 35 days of the victim’s life, Ms. Piang Ngaih Don was given little to eat, five hours of sleep a night, and no privacy from showering or using the toilet while Gaiyathiri or her mother watched.

Ms. Piang Ngaih Don lost 15 kg in 14 months and was kicked, stamped, beaten, and beaten with objects such as a broom and a metal trowel.

Gaiyathiri also picked up the maid by her hair, shook it vigorously, and pulled out a strand of hair. Gaiyathiri once used an iron to burn Ms. Piang Ngaih Don’s arm.

During the 12 nights before she died, Ms. Piang Ngaih Don was tied to a window grille with a string at night.

She died on the morning of July 26th after a combined attack by Gaiyathiri and Gaiyathiri’s mother broke a bone in her neck and caused irreversible brain damage.

On Thursday (April 29), the pre-trial detainee came to court with her new lawyer, Joseph Chen, replacing Ms. Diana Ngiam and Mr. Sunil Sudheesan, who had previously prepared their mitigation.


Mr. Chen told the court that he would like to ask the prosecution to reconsider the procedure under the 304a charge of culpable non-murder murder, which carries life imprisonment.

Instead, he sought a reduced charge with no life imprisonment. Under the Criminal Code in force at the time of the offense, unintentional charge of 304b is up to 10 years in prison and a fine. Caning doesn’t apply to women.

After some back and forth, Mr. Chen said his client would not withdraw her guilty plea. He asked for time to make another case for Gaiyathiri.

READ: Maid’s Death in Myanmar: MOM Reviews How Doctors Report Potential Abuse

“With the court’s forbearance and the prosecution’s relief, she will take further remedial action to highlight the factors that support her case, that her guilt by focusing and emphasizing the stressors that cause her to feel increased tension That will reduce their concern for children’s health, “said Mr. Chen.

This “increased tension” is seen along with her mental disorders, he said. Gaiyathiri suffered from major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, both of which contributed significantly to her crimes, the court previously heard.

Because of these disorders, she qualified to defend a diminished responsibility, with her obsessive-compulsive personality disorder being a major risk factor for exacerbating the severity of depressive symptoms of the peripartum outbreak. It would have made her depression worse to an extent that partially affected her spiritual responsibility for her actions, the court heard at the previous hearing.

The judge said some of the issues relating to Gaiyathiri’s children were raised in her previous mitigation. According to the document prepared by Gaiyathiri’s previous defense lawyers, Gaiyathiri was “overwhelmed” by the care of her children, who developed gastrointestinal problems that required regular hospital visits.

Because doctor Gaiyathiri said that their children’s illnesses were due to poor hygiene, their concern about cleanliness and hygiene was “triggered,” lawyers Diana Ngiam and Sunil Sudheesan said earlier.

“Our client attributed the cause of her children’s illness to the deceased’s poor hygiene, such as the deceased’s practice of not washing their hands before touching cooking vessels and taking cooked food with unwashed hands,” the lawyers said.

Mr. Chen said that Gaiyathiri wanted to change or remove “a part or two” in the statement of fact that made up her confession of guilt.

Deputy Attorney General Mohamed Faizal said he was “surprised” but said he would respond in a timely manner.

Mr. Chen also said that he “must follow (Gaiyathiri’s) instructions to apply for a gag order to the best of his ability.” He later told the media that it wanted a “general ban on further reporting”. Prosecutors said they would respond in due course.

Justice See Kee Oon adjourned the case, until May 28th, when Mr. Chen submitted his additional motion for damage control and the prosecution responded. He set the next date for the case on June 22nd.

READ: Husband of a killer who has been suspended by police since 2016 and is accused of molesting the victim and removing video surveillance

Gaiyathiri’s husband, suspended police officer Kelvin Chelvam, faces five charges related to assaulting Ms. Piang Ngaih Don and lied to police about the removal of the surveillance cameras from his home.

He will return to a conference in court next month. His mother-in-law, Prema Naraynasamy, also has pending charges.