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3 years’ jail for maid who tried poisoning infant by mixing detergent in milk powder

SINGAPORE — Jealous that her fellow maid was only assigned to take care of a baby while she was allocated all the household chores, a 29-year-old domestic helper decided to sabotage her colleague by poisoning the baby.

3 years’ jail for maid who tried poisoning infant by mixing detergent in milk powder

A maid was sentenced to three years in jail after pleading guilty to mixing detergent powder into a baby's can of formula milk.

SINGAPORE — Jealous that her fellow maid was assigned only to take care of a baby while she was allocated all the household chores, a 29-year-old domestic helper decided to sabotage her colleague by poisoning the baby. 

The Indonesian national, who cannot be named to protect the child’s identity, mixed some detergent powder into the then-three-month-old baby’s milk powder tin.

She filled the milk powder scoop with Vanish Power O2 and Fab detergent powder until it was three-quarters full, and poured it into a tin of Karihome Goat Milk Infant Formula.

The child’s mother, who is 35 years old, brewed milk using the mixture on Sept 7 last year, and almost fed the baby the contaminated powder.

She realised something was wrong after she shook the milk bottle to dissolve the formula and noticed pink and black particles settling at the bottom of the bottle.

The maid was sentenced to three years in jail on Friday (Sept 20) after pleading guilty to one charge of attempting to cause the infant to take an unwholesome thing with the intention to hurt her.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The court heard that the convicted maid had been hired by the baby’s uncle, and had been working for the family for more than three years at that point. 

Meanwhile, the baby’s mother had hired a 25-year-old helper from Myanmar to help look after the baby.

The two helpers would occasionally work together in the home of the baby’s grandparents.

The court heard that on Sept 6 last year, the maid took a milk powder scoop from the kitchen cabinet of the grandparents’ house and hid it on top of the refrigerator. 

After she was done with some chores, she retrieved the scoop from the top of the refrigerator, used it to add detergent powder into the baby’s can of formula milk, then discarded it.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Zhou Yang said the maid was aware that the milk powder belonged to the baby, that the formula milk was used only to feed the baby, and that the girl was only around three months old.

A day later, at about 11pm, the mother made milk using the contaminated milk powder, then noticed the pink and black particles at the bottom of the milk bottle.

She put the bottle aside and used another bottle to make the milk again, and this time she noticed blue particles in the bottle. 

She opened the tin and noticed a fragrant smell, similar to that of detergent. 

Sensing that something was amiss, she decided to feed the baby using breast milk instead.

DPP Zhou said the maid later admitted to mixing the detergent powder with the milk powder as she felt that she was given “more work as compared to other maids”, and did not want to work for her employer anymore. 

As the DPP sought a three-year jail sentence, he stressed that the substance was “almost consumed by the baby” although the maid’s acts arose “purely (out of) personal vendetta on the other maid”, which could have inflicted “potential life-threatening harm” to the infant.

‘FORTUITOUS’ THAT THE MOTHER FOUND OUT

In sentencing the maid, District Judge Prem Raj said the motive in this case was “especially troubling” as the accused had “no qualms using an infant as a tool”, just because she was frustrated with the way work was allocated.

“The well-being and life of everyone – especially that of an innocent infant – is not something to be used as a means to pursue one’s selfish agenda,” the judge said.

It was “fortuitous” that the mother had suspected something was wrong before feeding the baby, otherwise the maid’s charge could have been a more serious one attracting a jail sentence of up to 10 years, instead of five, District Judge Prem added.

The judge also noted the potential harm to the infant, who was still “at a tender age where the digestive system has yet to develop fully”.

The maid, who was not represented by a lawyer, told the court that she was “very sorry” for her offence, and urged the court to impose a lenient sentence. 

She said she was the sole breadwinner for her family, which includes an aged mother who is widowed and a younger sibling who is still schooling.

The maid’s sentence is backdated to July 10, 2019, the date of her remand.

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domestic helper poisoning court crime jail

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