Prema’s daughter, Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 41, was sentenced to 30 years in jail in 2021, the longest jail term meted out in a maid abuse case in Singapore.
Don died of brain injury from severe blunt trauma to her neck on July 26, 2016, after 14 months of repeated abuse.
The mother joined her daughter in the abuse including pouring or spraying water on the maid, kicking, punching and slapping her, grabbing her by the neck, pulling her up by her hair and “spinning” her head violently, Channel News Asia reported.
She also hit the maid with tools like a spatula, a towel and a detergent bottle, and watched as the victim used the toilet.
The maid, who weighed 39 kilograms when she started working for the family in May 2015, weighed a mere 24 kilograms when she died, the report said.
In the days before her death, she was tied to a window grille at night and assaulted if she tried to rummage for food from the dustbin, it added.
Prosecutors had called for a 14 to 16 years jail sentence for Prema.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Senthilkumaran Sabapathy said the basis for seeking the jail term was “the shocking and heinous nature” of the offences.
He called the case one of the worst cases of abuse of a domestic helper in Singapore’s history, involving a high degree of physical and psychological harm and an “exceptionally high level of culpability” on Prema’s part.
“Her (Don’s) life was nothing short of a living nightmare,” the channel quoted the prosecutor as saying.
She was assaulted while trying to eat and dragged and thrown around the house “like a ragdoll” in a manner that showed a “complete lack of respect” for the deceased as a fellow human being, the prosecutor said.
While Prema’s daughter suffered from a mental condition, she had none. She was an active participant in the abuse and did not intervene to stop her daughter, even though she could have from the start, he added.
Prema’s defence lawyer Rai Satish had asked for 10 years of jail term, saying that she abused the maid because she was frustrated due to her daughter’s complaints about the victim.
The lawyer said his client knows, after spending six months and six years on remand, that she has done something wrong.
“She’s weighed down by the guilt of it all. You can see that her physical health has deteriorated quite considerably after she’s been in remand – I think that’s attributable to the guilt,” the report quoted the lawyer as saying.
“She’s painted to be this vile and wicked person, I think that’s an unfair characterisation,” said the lawyer, adding that there were instances of “kindness”.