Former civil servant 'hurled abuse at Bangladeshi maid before assaulting her with hot water'

Bangladeshi helper alleges woman scolded her before pouring hot water on her chest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 3:57am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 7:37am

A Bangladeshi maid was verbally abused by her boss, a former civil servant, hours before she was assaulted, a court heard yesterday.

Domestic helper Begum Raksona told the District Court she was so shocked by Au Wai-chun's verbal abuse on September 30 last year that she vomited after dinner.

Raksona alleged that Au, after an argument over a cup of hot water, pulled down her shirt and poured the water on her chest.

Au has pleaded not guilty to one count of assault causing grievous bodily harm to Raksona, who suffered first-to-seconddegree burns in the incident.

Defence counsel Judy Ma, for Au, pointed out that the maid understood only limited English. She also put to Raksona that since she had vomited, Au told her to take a rest shortly before the alleged assault took place.

"She told you there's no need to mop the floor, but only to sweep the floor," Ma said.

Denying that at first, Raksona later changed her mind and agreed with Ma before giving her own account.

"Yes, I vomited. I tried to clean it up, but Madam Au told me I could clean that later," she said, adding that she was then asked to make Au's bed.

She told the court that as she ate food that Au had brought home earlier that evening, Au hurled abusive words at her, causing her to vomit.

Ma also challenged Raksona on why she had not sought help from Au after the assault.

"What could I expect from her," asked the maid, adding that she had been treated like dirt.

When Ma suggested that Raksona had exaggerated her pain by rolling on the floor in a video clip shown to the court earlier, the helper broke down in tears.

"When hot water is poured on someone's body, only that person understands … what happens," said Raksona, whose medical reports showed she suffered blisters and peeling skin on her chest after the incident.

Yesterday, Ma dedicated a large part of the time in court trying to get the details right. She fired questions at Raksona, asking her to recall if Au's hand had touched the bottom of the cup when the water was splashed, and whether Au had received the cup with one hand or both.

The defence counsel also pointed out discrepancies between Raksona's police statement after the incident and evidence she recently gave in court.

Raksona said she was terrified after the incident and so could have answered some questions based on assumptions.

The case continues today.