Couple should be convicted for murder of maid

PUTRAJAYA: A couple should have been convicted for the murder of their Cambodian maid because they had deliberately deprived her from food over a period of time which caused her death, the Court of Appeal here was told today.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lailawati Ali submitted that not only Mey Sichan, who only weighed 26.1 kg, was not given food to eat, she was also abused and subjected to physical injuries which were inflicted all over her body.

She said the High Court judge had failed to analyse evidence with regard to the series of conduct by the couple on the deceased which could infer their state of mind.

"There is no reason for the deceased to steal food or to take food scraps from a rubbish bin except that she was not given proper food," said Lailawati who added that Mey was also deprived of medical care.

The prosecution is cross-appealing the Penang High Court's decision on May 16, 2013 to convict hardware store owner Soh Chew Tong and his wife Chin Chui Ling on a reduced charge of committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder instead of the original charge for murder.

The couple were sentenced to 24 years jail each for causing the death of Mey, 24, at their home in Taman Asas Murni, Jalan Bukit Minyak in Bukit Mertajam, Penang between Jan 1 and April 1, 2012.

Soh, 46 and Chin, 43, were also appealing against their conviction and jail term.

Lailawati also argued that it was not an act of negligence on the part of the couple to have caused the deceased's death, instead it was a series of acts of the couple over a prolonged period of time.

Their lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran argued that the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased died as a result of starvation.

He said the prosecution failed to adduce evidence to show that the deceased did not suffer from other diseases which could have led to the progressive wasting and emaciation of her body.

"Without ruling out the probabilities that the deceased suffered from, for example, tuberculosis, pernicious anaemia or anorexia nervosa, it cannot be concluded that the deceased's gastric ulcer was caused by her deprivation of food by the appellants," he said.

He said at the very best, his clients could be found to have acted so negligently as to have caused Mey's death whereby despite her (Mey's) persistent refusal to meet a doctor, they (the couple) ought to have nevertheless ensured that she got the necessary medical care.

The three-member panel comprising Justices Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, Datuk Seri Zakaria Sam and Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi reserved their decision to a date to be fixed.

Mey who started working for the couple in July 2011, was found dead at the couple's shophouse with 29 old and fresh injuries on her body and was severely dehydrated. She had sunken cheeks and eye-sockets. Her death was caused by perforation of gastric ulcer, an acute peritonitis that was left untreated for a week. – Bernama