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Murder suspect’s husband charged with maid abuse

SINGAPORE — A 37-year-old man whose wife and mother-in-law were charged with the murder of their maid last month was charged on Thursday (Aug 11) for using criminal force and voluntarily causing hurt to the Myanmar national.

Prema S Naraynasamy (left in red), 58, and her daughter Gaiyathiri Murugayan (right in red), 36, seen crossing path while escorted separately to their Bishan flat for a re-enactment of their crime on 3 August 2016. Photo: Koh Mui Fong

Prema S Naraynasamy (left in red), 58, and her daughter Gaiyathiri Murugayan (right in red), 36, seen crossing path while escorted separately to their Bishan flat for a re-enactment of their crime on 3 August 2016. Photo: Koh Mui Fong

SINGAPORE — A 37-year-old man whose wife and mother-in-law were charged with the murder of their maid last month allegedly tried to throw investigators off their trail.

Kevin Chelvam, who was charged in court on Thursday (Aug 11), was also accused of roughing up the maid, Piang Ngaih Don, a 24-year-old Myanmar national.

His wife, Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 36, and her mother, Prema S Naraynasamy, 58, are accused of murdering Piang between July 25 and 26 in their ninth-floor flat at Block 145, Bishan Street 11.

The police received a call requesting for assistance at the flat at about 11am on July 26. 

But before officers arrived, Chelvam purportedly removed the closed-circuit television digital video recorder system installed in the flat. 

He did so with the intention of shielding his wife and mother-in-law from legal punishment, according to court documents.

When he was questioned by an investigating officer that day, Chelvam allegedly lied that the system had been removed six months earlier, at the request of one of his tenants. 

As a result, Chelvam caused the investigator to stop searching for CCTV video evidence that was relevant to the probe into the maid’s death, the court was told.

About a month earlier, on June 24, Chelvam allegedly used criminal force on Piang by grabbing her hair and lifting her off the ground. Chelvam was also said to have hit her on the shoulder with a toy bat on July 23.

Defence lawyer Sunil Sudheesan is representing all three of them. At the hearing on Thursday, about 10 family members and friends turned up for support. 

Mr Sunil said the mother-and-daughter pair were teary-eyed when he spoke to them after the hearing.

They have been remanded for psychiatric evaluation and will return to court on Sept 1. If convicted, they face the death penalty or life imprisonment. Chelvam is out on bail and will return to court on Sept 8.

For causing any evidence to disappear with the intention of screening an offender from legal punishment, the maximum punishment is 10 years’ jail and a fine. 

The offence of giving false information is punishable with up to one year in jail and/or a fine of not more than S$5,000.

For using criminal force, he could be jailed up to three months and/or fined up to S$1,500, if convicted.

Those who cause hurt to maids are punished more severely. Courts can sentence an offender to one-and-a-half times the usual penalty, which can go up to two years in jail and/or a S$5,000 fine.

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