An alcohol distributor who raped his domestic helper twice overnight was sentenced to 13 years’ jail and 20 strokes of the cane on Monday (Nov 14), after a High Court judge called him out for his reprehensible behaviour.
Prosecutors said that Chin Swee Chung, 46, had violated his domestic helper in the sanctity of a household that she would have regarded as a workplace, shelter and abode. “The accused was able to gain access to the victim and prey upon her at a vulnerable time – in the wee hours of the night and early morning, with no one nearby for her to seek assistance from – precisely because of his position as her employer, occupying the same household as her,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan.
But lawyers acting for Chin, a Malaysian and Singapore permanent resident, pointed out that he had acted out of character and had no past brushes with the law.
In his sentencing remarks, Justice Chan Seng Onn said that he struggled to find the right sentence after mulling over the mitigation plea, which included numerous testimonials from Chin’s friends. “But clearly what you did was reprehensible. You’ve raped your own maid twice and in the course of the night,” he said.
Chin intends to appeal against his conviction and sentence, and has been granted bail of S$70,000.
On Dec 19, 2013, Chin went drinking with his friends, only to return to his Pasir Ris flat in the early hours of the next morning. The rest of his family – his mother, wife and two children – was abroad and no one was home except for his then 35-year-old Myanmar domestic helper, who had been working for the family since July that year.
Tipsy after downing eight glasses of beer, cocktail and vodka, Chin stood outside his domestic helper’s room and called out to her at around 2.30am. She was awoken by the noise and came out from her room. They eventually ended up in the master bedroom, where he raped her.
The domestic helper picked up her clothes and went into the toilet near the kitchen. She bathed and returned to her room to call a family friend working in Singapore. The call went unanswered, so she sent the friend a text message asking him to call her.
Having cried through the night, she felt unsure of what to do and decided to do laundry at 6am. An hour or so later, Chin woke up and entered the kitchen. What they said or did was contested during the seven-day trial, but Chin eventually raped her again in the master bedroom.
“The victim was forced to undergo the full gamut of emotional turmoil and trauma ensuing from such an intimate and visceral violation of her personal integrity not once, but twice; the second time was an even more cruel act as it was committed with the victim’s full and fresh awareness of what had been done to her only hours before,” said DPP Kumaresan in his submissions to the court.
Around 9am and 10am, Chin handed the domestic helper S$30 to buy groceries before leaving for work. She took the chance to call her family friend again and told him, in between sobs, that her life had been “destroyed”.
At his urging, she called the police. Two officers arrived at the flat and accompanied her down to the void deck to wait for a senior investigation officer to join them.
At some point, Chin returned home and came across the cops and the domestic helper at the void deck. The two officers testified that they heard him tell the victim: “Please, I’m sorry. Please don’t do this to me.”
During the trial, Chin had claimed that the sexual intercourse had been consensual. His wife has since divorced him, and the domestic helper has returned to her home country.