Vitria Wahyuni. Photo: Straits Times

Vitria Wahyuni was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment by Justice Choo Han Teck for killing her employer, Madam Sng Gek Wah, 87, on November 25, 2009. The domestic worker, then aged 16, had been in the job for only four days when she strangled the older lady after being subjected to scoldings and insults.

As reported by the Straits Times, March 10, 2012 (Why maid was given 10 years’ jail, by K C Vijayan), the prosecution had asked for a 20-year sentence after she pleaded guilty to culpable homicide, on the ground that Vitria had killed deliberately and ‘with premeditation’ but the judge’s decision was closer to the defence request for 8 to 10 years.

Vitria’s lawyer Mohd Muzammil Mohd pointed to Vitria’s distressed family circumstances as mitigation. Vitria was already a mother of one and a divorcee to boot when she came here to work in order to pay for her father’s medical treatment for tuberculosis. He died last May of the disease. Her father had also lied and obtained for her a false passport under a false name and which declared her age to be 23 — the minimum age for working as a domestic helper in Singapore.

Having led a slow, sheltered life in a poor village, she suffered tension, resentment and anger in the job, said psychiatric reports. She also had a relatively low level of intelligence, which, together with her youth, made her impulse control and problem-solving skills poor.

Justice Choo noted that Vitria did not deserve a higher sentence than Indonesian maid Siti Aminah, then 15, who was jailed for ten years for culpable homicide in 2005. Together with another maid Juminem, then 18, Siti killed her employer Esther Ang in 2004, after having been abused over time. Justice Choo had then found Siti Aminah to be intellectually and psychologically immature and likely to be ‘led along’ by her accomplice Juminem.