Man who filmed family's maid in shower thrice jailed 10 weeks

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SINGAPORE — A man who filmed his maid three times in the shower was sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail on Tuesday (17 March).

Paul Tay Yew-Kwang, a 43-year-old Singaporean, pleaded guilty to one count of insulting the modesty of the Indonesian maid on 25 February last year, with two counts relating to other incidents of filming on November and December 2018 taken into consideration for sentencing.

The 32-year-old maid had been working for the family for a year and eight months before the offences surfaced. According to court documents, she had a good working relationship with the family and shared a close bond with the children. She cannot be named to protect her identity.

Tay’s lawyer told the court that the man had committed the offences at the “lowest point of his life” as he had been suspended from his job since December 2018 and was worried about feeding his family, including his wife and two young children.

His wife is now the sole breadwinner of the family and Tay is willing to face the consequences, the lawyer added.

On 25 February last year, the maid showered in the kitchen toilet of her employer’s family. As she reached for the tap, she saw through a mirror a black mobile phone placed in the toilet through the gap above the door.

She screamed in shock and rushed out of the toilet but did not see anyone outside. By then, Tay had fled to his room and reset his phone to avoid detection.

Tay then returned to the kitchen and asked the victim what had happened. He suggested that the perpetrator must have been an outsider who had entered the house. He claimed that he would check with the security office on whether they could find out who it was from the surveillance footage.

Tay’s wife later accompanied the maid to make a police report.

When Tay was questioned that evening by the police, he denied the offence. He came clean three days later upon giving a further statement to the police.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norine Tan called for a 12-week jail term, noting that Tay’s offences were liable to an enhanced penalty as they were committed against a foreign domestic worker.

She said that Tay’s offences affected the maid’s livelihood as she would have had to find another employer and that the emotional disruption was “significant”.

In mitigation, Tay’s lawyer said that his client had written a letter to apologise to the victim.

He added that Tay’s offences were committed on the spur of the moment when he heard the victim taking a shower. 

However District Judge Adam Nakhoda observed that Tay had filmed the maid three times, which made his actions seem more opportunistic. The maid was also considered an “extremely vulnerable victim”, as foreign domestic workers were seen as a specific class of victims.

The judge said, “I’m afraid the personal hardship here is not so exceptional that it would amount to large mitigation weight to be given to it.” The grave intrusion against the victim was also an aggravating factor, he added.

For his offence, Tay could have been jailed up to one-and-a-half years and/or fined due to the enhanced punishment given for crimes against foreign domestic workers.

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