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Maid found guilty of murdering employer’s 70-year-old mother-in-law

CNA – A domestic helper from Myanmar who stabbed her employer’s elderly mother-in-law to death in 2018 was found guilty of murder in Singapore yesterday.

Delivering the verdict, Justice Andre Maniam said Zin Mar Nwe, then 17, had stabbed the 70-year-old victim, after the elderly woman threatened to send her back to her agent.

He rejected the defence’s arguments that Zin Mar Nwe, now around 22, had not been conscious of the stabbing, that she was in a dissociative state of mind, or that she was suffering from an abnormality of mind.

The court previously heard that Zin Mar Nwe arrived in Singapore on January 5, 2018. While her passport stated her age as 23, investigations later revealed she was 17.

After two employers, Zin Mar Nwe began working for the victim’s son-in-law on May 10, 2018. She stayed with her employer, his wife and two teenage daughters.

The victim arrived in Singapore from India on May 26, 2018, intending to stay with the family for a month.

On June 25, 2018, after a dispute between the two women, the victim told Zin Mar Nwe she would be sent to her agent the next day.

Zin Mar Nwe then took a knife and approached the victim and stabbed her 26 times until she stopped moving.

After this, Zin Mar Nwe broke a lock on a cupboard in the master bedroom and retrieved her belongings. She washed the knife and changed into a dress before leaving the flat.

She went to her agency to request for her passport but left when she heard agents say they were about to call her employers.

She then wandered around Singapore for about five hours before returning to the agency, where she was arrested.

After her arrest, Zin Mar Nwe gave various accounts of the incident in statements to the police, including that the victim had been killed by two fictitious men, noted Justice Maniam.

During trial, Zin Mar Nwe sought to rely on the partial defence of diminished responsibility, on the basis that she suffered from mixed anxiety and depressive reaction or adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood at the time of the killing.

She relied on the defence’s expert witness, psychiatrist Tommy Tan, to argue that she was in a “dissociative state” and could not control or remember her acts when she was stabbing the victim.

Zin Mar Nwe also claimed that the victim abused her, including scalding her with a heated pan, hitting her with her hands, or with other implements.

Justice Maniam rejected the defence that Zin Mar Nwe was in a dissociative state, as this would be inconsistent with her behaviour in the aftermath of the stabbing.

He also rejected that she was suffering from adjustment disorder.

Addressing the court on sentencing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said the prosecution will not be seeking the death penalty.

The judge then directed parties to file submissions within four weeks before scheduling the sentencing hearing for a later date.

For murder, Zin Mar Nwe can be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. She cannot be caned as she is a woman.

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