SINGAPORE — The housewife who repeatedly abused, starved and killed her maid from Myanmar is seeking to have her most serious charge further reduced, according to a report by The Straits Times.
Gaiyathiri Murugayan, 41, has changed lawyers in a bid to avoid life imprisonment for her culpable homicide charge that the prosecution is seeking. The charge, which she admitted to in February, was previously reduced from murder.
Apart from culpable homicide, Gaiyathiri pleaded guilty to 27 other charges involving grievous hurt, hurt, wrongful restraint and criminal intimidation. Another 87 related charges will be considered when she is sentenced at a later date.
Her policeman-husband Kevin Chelvam and mother Prema S Naraynasamy are facing hurt-related charges, which are pending before the courts.
In July 2016, Piang, 24, died from brain damage due to oxygen depravation from repeated choking and weighed just 24kg at the time, a court heard on 23 February.
There were 47 external injuries over her body, including the scalp, head, neck, cheek, mouth, chin, forearms, right shoulder, hip, right abdomen, right leg, both thighs and buttocks. The hyoid bone in her neck was broken due to strangulation. She also had 31 fresh scars all over her body.
Gaiyathiri was due to be sentenced at the High Court on Thursday (29 April 29) but during the hearing, it was revealed that she had changed lawyers last month, according to The Straits Times report.
The presiding judge, Justice See Kee Oon, asked Gaiyathiri’s new lawyer, Joseph Chen, to find out if she wanted to withdraw her plea of guilt.
Chen said Gaiyathiri wanted to plead further for leniency and ask the prosecution to reduce the culpable homicide charge, the report said.
After a brief break, Chen told the court that Gaiyathiri was not withdrawing her plea. He asked for time to file further mitigation to argue for her lower culpability, with a focus on the stress she was facing over her children's health.
In addition, the lawyer said he was instructed to apply for a gag order on the case. Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir said the prosecution will respond if such an order is made.
The case was adjourned for the further mitigation plea to be filed by 28 May and tentatively fixed for hearing on 22 June.
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