Old couple spared the gallows for death of starving maid

Last Updated on April 11, 2018, 10:33 a.m.

PUTRAJAYA: A former wiring consultant and his wife were spared the death sentence today for the death of their their Indonesian maid, who was believed to have died of starvation in 2011.

The Federal Court amended the charge from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced them to 20 years’ jail each.

The prosecution asked for a deterrent sentence even though the wife was suffering from breast cancer, pointing out that the victim had been deprived of food.

A five-man bench led by Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin sentenced Fong Kong Meng, 62, and housewife Teoh Ching Yen, 60, to 20 years’ jail from June 5, 2011, the date they were remanded.

The court reached a unanimous decision. Justice Zulkefli heard the appeal with Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judges Hasan Lah, Balia Yusof Wahi and Aziah Ali.

They allowed the couple’s appeal against an Appeal Court decision upholding the guilty verdict and death sentenced pronounced by the Shah Alam High Court.

The couple had been accused of the murder of the maid, Isti Komariah, 26, at a house in Petaling Jaya near here, between May 14, 2010, and June 5, 2011.

Justice Zulkefli said the court found that the prosecution had failed to prove its case on murder and that the evidence placed the case under Section 304(a) (of the Penal Code).

In mitigation, Gopal Sri Ram, for the couple, said they had been remanded for almost seven years since June 5, 2011, and the wife was suffering from breast cancer.

However deputy public prosecutor Mohd Hamzah Ismail asked for a deterrent sentence as the victim had suffered starvation as a result of the couple’s failure to provide food before she died.

“In this case, the maximum (jail) sentence is 30 years, I ask for 25 years for both appellants,” he said.

When asked by Zulkefli, whether he asked for the same sentence even though the wife was suffering from cancer, Hamzah replied: “The prison can take her to the hospital.”

“The court finds the appropriate sentence in this case is 20 years for each of the appellants,” Zulkefli said.

Earlier, Sri Ram submitted that his clients did not cause the death of the victim as they had provided food for the maid.

Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, who also acted for the duo, said the maid had written in her notebook that “majikan saya baik, tetapi saya yang kurang, kalau saya buat jengkel, tapi masih sabar” (my employers are good, I was not so good, when I was being annoying, they were

To this, Hamzah replied that the victim was deprived of food and was accused by the couple of stealing biscuits and soup from the house.

He also said that the victim’s weight had dropped to only 26kg at the time of her death, compared with 49kg when she first started working for the couple.

On March 6, 2014, the High Court found that the victim died of starvation as a result of the couple’s failure to provide her food and medical treatment.

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