A HOUSEWIFE who abused her maid with a bamboo pole, a hot spoon and a sewing needle had her 16-month jail term changed to a S$15,000 (RM39,000) fine on appeal.
Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin accepted that 34-year-old Soh Meiyun was suffering from both major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder at the time, which affected her actions.
Soh was diagnosed with the psychiatric disorders only in June last year – six months after she was sentenced in December 2012 for abusing Indonesian Lilis Sriyatun, 26.
Her lawyer Quek Mong Hua succeeded in admitting the report from Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist Yao Feng-yuan as fresh evidence during her first appeal hearing in January.
The report said that a year after her son was born in April 2008, Soh had symptoms including poor sleep, poor concentration and low energy levels, and quarrelled with her husband almost every day.
She followed a ritualistic way of cleaning and packing things, including taking up to two hours to wash two milk bottles.
Dr Yao, who said her symptoms “are very unlikely to be feigned”, took the stand in a second appeal hearing earlier this month.
Justice Chao said in his written judgment yesterday that he was initially sceptical about Dr Yao’s diagnosis; this was exacerbated by the way in which Soh’s account of her offences to Dr Yao differed from the findings of the district judge who convicted her.
“But having heard him testify, I am satisfied that his diagnosis in the medical report is reliable,” said Justice Chao. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network