Case of woman who allegedly helped daughter fatally abuse maid adjourned, after lawyer M Ravi’s MC extended
SINGAPORE — A 63-year-old woman was set to plead guilty on Friday (Jan 28) to repeatedly abusing her daughter’s domestic helper, who eventually died in 2016, but the case was adjourned due to her lawyer M Ravi’s extension of his medical certificate (MC).
- Prema S Naraynasamy, 63, was set to plead guilty to multiple charges related to the fatal abuse of domestic worker Piang Ngaih Don
- However, the case was adjourned after defence lawyer M Ravi's medical leave was extended
- Prema allegedly helped her daughter physically abuse the worker, who weighed just 24kg when she died
SINGAPORE — A 63-year-old woman was set to plead guilty on Friday (Jan 28) to repeatedly abusing her daughter’s domestic helper, who eventually died in 2016, but the case was adjourned after a medical certificate (MC) for her lawyer M Ravi was extended.
Prema S Naraynasamy faces 49 criminal charges, mostly of voluntarily causing hurt to 24-year-old Myanmarese Piang Ngaih Don. She was originally also charged with murder but was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal for that charge.
This means that the capital charge can be revived later, and she can still be prosecuted for the alleged offence should new evidence emerge, for instance.
The case drew widespread ire from the public when Prema’s daughter, Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 41, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide in the High Court and was sentenced in June last year to 30 years’ jail.
Gaiyathiri had admitted to starving and abusing Piang almost daily over nine months, with Prema allegedly joining in the abusive acts.
In the hours before Piang died, Prema purportedly choked her by the neck and poured a basin of water on her, before Gaiyathiri tied her to a window grille and assaulted her some more. Mother and daughter tried to revive her but were unsuccessful.
Prosecutors previously said that Piang also had no privacy and had to shower and relieve herself while either Prema or Gaiyathiri watched.
Piang lost 15kg and weighed just 24kg when she died in the family’s three-bedroom flat along Bishan Street 11 on July 26, 2016.
On Friday, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Senthilkumaran Sabapathy told the court that Prema's lawyer Mr Ravi, who has bipolar disorder and was given a conditional practising certificate, is still on medical leave and that “new counsel may be taking over the matter”.
The Law Society of Singapore previously said that Mr Ravi would stop practising law for six weeks after his attending psychiatrist issued him an MC from Dec 2 last year to Jan 13 this year.
DPP Sabapathy did not reveal why Mr Ravi’s MC was extended.
Mr Ravi, a human rights lawyer, made headlines late last year, particularly when several SBS Transit bus drivers fired him for his “shocking and embarrassing” conduct at the start of their trial over allegedly unfair work practices.
In 2016, he was barred from applying for a practising certificate for two years following a series of high-profile incidents. He returned to practice in July 2019.
DPP Sabapathy sought an adjournment on Friday and asked for a pre-trial conference to be fixed, so that Prema’s defence representation could be sorted out before her plea is taken. Mr Ravi did not appear in court.
Principal District Judge Toh Han Li agreed to this. She will return to court on Feb 21.
Court records showed that Prema has been remanded for more than five years since Piang died. Her charge sheets showed that she allegedly committed acts such as slapping Piang, using a mobile phone to hit her head, hitting her with a metal spatula and punching her in the abdomen.
Gaiyathiri’s husband, Kelvin Chelvam, faces five charges. The suspended police staff sergeant's case is similarly pending before the courts.
Chelvam had allegedly removed the digital video recorder system from a surveillance camera installed in the flat, and purportedly lied to investigators that their tenants had requested this.