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Singapore woman receives 30-year prison term for death of Myanmar maid

Singapore woman receives 30-year prison term for death of Myanmar maid
Piang Ngaih Don was one of 250,000 foreign domestic workers in Singapore when she died in 2016 at the hands of her employer. File Photo by Jonathan Drake/EPA

June 22 (UPI) -- A Singaporean woman who beat and burned her housemaid from Myanmar with a clothing iron before choking her to death was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The actions of Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 41, were "evil and utterly inhumane," Singapore's prosecution said Tuesday, referring to the death of the victim, Piang Ngaih Don, from her injuries in 2016, the BBC reported.

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High Court judge See Kee Oon said that Murugayan's case was "among the worse cases of culpable homicide" he has ever seen.

"Words cannot adequately describe the abject cruelty of the accused's appalling conduct," See said, according to Singapore's Straits Times.

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Piang was choked to death, but the household employee also had been starved or suffered from malnutrition after her meals were restricted to bread dipped in water, cold food and tiny servings of rice, according to the BBC in February.

The Singaporean court acknowledged Tuesday that the defendant has a depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The judge said Murugayan's psychiatric evaluation could not be ignored, according to Straits Times.

Joseph Chen, the defendant's lawyer, sought a reduced prison sentence, citing her "mental disorder." Murugayan allegedly developed major depressive disorder while pregnant with her second child.

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"It was a combination of stressors that led to her evolving from a non-maid abuser to a maid abuser," Chen said, referring to his client's four previous domestic employees who reportedly suffered no abuses.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir said Murugayan engaged in "cruel and heinous" crimes and that the violence is a "function of the accused viewing the victim as a lesser human being." The prosecutor sought anywhere from a 27-year jail term to life imprisonment.

The defendant pleaded guilty in February to 28 charges. Another 87 charges were taken into consideration Tuesday.

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Abuse of housemaids has been previously reported in Singapore, one of the richest countries in the world.

A local couple in 2017 was jailed for starving their Filipino domestic worker, and another couple was jailed in 2019 for abusing a worker from Myanmar. Other housemaids have said they ate dog food to survive, according to the BBC.

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