SINGAPORE — An Indonesian domestic worker who stabbed and slashed her 59-year-old employer to death in 2016 was found guilty of a lesser murder charge on Monday (6 April).
This means that Daryati, who only goes by one name, might avoid the death penalty that was mandatory under her original charge for murder with intention.
Under the amended charge, which was tendered by the prosecution on Monday after 17 days of trial, the 27-year-old was guilty of causing Seow Kim Choo’s death by attacking her with the intention of causing injuries that that were sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
While Daryati could still face the death sentence under the amended charge, the prosecution told the court that they would not be seeking it. Her sentencing will take place at a later date.
Daryati’s other charge, for the attempted murder of Seow’s then 57-year-old husband Ong Thiam Soon, will be taken into consideration for her sentencing, according to a Straits Times report.
Homesick, longing for lover
Daryati began working for Seow on 13 April 2016, some three months before the murder. She earned $580 a month cooking, cleaning, walking the dogs and doing laundry. Seow’s two grandchildren also resided at her Telok Kurau home.
Soon after she began her employment, Daryati became homesick and longed for her lover, who worked in Hong Kong. Daryati wanted to return to Indonesia, but her passport was locked in a safe in the master bedroom.
Daryati also faced financial problems as her father had a stroke and her younger sister had school fees to pay. The maid also wanted to start a business back home.
Knowing that her employers kept the keys to the safe and believing that there was money in a locked drawer in the house, Daryati then devised a plan to threaten Seow for the keys. She was prepared to attack and kill Seow if necessary.
On 12 May 2016, Daryati jotted in her diary, “I must carry out this plan quickly. I have to be brave even though life is at stake. I am ready to face all risks / consequences, whatever the risk, I must be ready to accept it.... My employer’s family is my target... death!!!”
Daryati then enlisted the help of another maid, Don Hayati BT Warsa Samud, who was then employed by Seow’s daughter-in-law. She instructed Don Hayati to distract Ong and to switch off the home’s CCTV cameras and electricity supply at the right time.
Daryati and Don Hayati would then steal the money and make their escape.
Even though Don Hayati agreed to the plan, Daryati did not tell her when the plan would be executed, nor that she intended to use a knife to threaten Seow.
Deceased sustained 94 wounds
On 2 June 2016, Daryati drew a map detailing the layout of the house to plan her escape route. Four to five days later, Daryati hid weapons around the house, including two knives and a hammer in the master bedroom and its en suite toilet, and another room.
On 7 June 2016, Daryati hid a knife in her pants and headed to the master bedroom with Seow’s ironed pants and a basket of folded clothes. As she headed into the wardrobe area of the master bedroom with Seow, Daryati slipped out the knife and pointed it at Seow’s neck, demanding her passport back.
Seow began shouting and Daryati pulled her into the master bedroom toilet. The maid then stabbed and slashed Seow multiple times on the neck, head and face, killing her.
Ong, who entered the master bedroom, used a screwdriver to pry open the toilet door, after he spotted blood through the gap between the door and floor. As he entered the toilet, Daryati stabbed him just below his neck. As Ong checked on his wife, Daryati stabbed him again.
Ong managed to overpower Daryati and dragged her out of the room. Along with the assistance of other family members, Ong managed to bind Daryati with cable ties and an ambulance was called.
According to an autopsy report, Seow died from multiple incised and stab wounds to the head and neck which had resulted in massive haemorrhage. She had at least 94 such wounds on her body.
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