A JUDGE begged the parents of a three-month-old baby who died because of a maid's neglect to understand he could not impose a harsher sentence on the woman. District Court Judge Britton yesterday sentenced maid Judith Tumaneng, 36, to 21 months' jail after she pleaded guilty to the neglect of Poon Ka-hoi between September 22 and October 19 last year. Expressing his 'abhorrence', the judge added if it was up to him he would send her away 'for many years'. Judge Britton told Tumaneng: 'That helpless little soul was in your hands. Within six weeks, that tiny baby was dead. Dead because of your neglect.' He said the serious injuries to the baby and the neglect of the boy represented one of the worst cases that could come before a court. Ka-hoi died of head injuries on November 6. The judge said law changes this year had increased the maximum jail sentence for child neglect from two to 10 years. 'It will come as no consolation to the devastated parents of this infant for me to say my hands are tied,' said Judge Britton. 'But tied they are as I am obliged by law to approach it from the time the offences were committed, not as they stand now. I can only hope for the parents' understanding.' The court heard Tumaneng had told Ka-hoi's parents he fell off the sofa on October 14. Doctors found deep bruising to his head, evidence of an impact. They said similar wounds were evidence of violent shaking. The court heard Ka-hoi's parents, Poon Wai-man and Wong Tseung-yi, employed the maid just after his birth to care for him while they worked. They found bruising and scratches around the baby's eyes and cheeks barely three weeks after the defendant started work. About two weeks later, Ms Wong found bruising to the left side of Ka-hoi's waist and Mr Poon took him to the doctor two days later with a swelling to the head. The baby fell into a coma after four days, dying on November 6. A post-mortem examination revealed a blood clot to the left side of the brain which could have been caused by impact or violent shaking. Defence counsel Freddy Woon said the maid was distraught at the time because her husband was misusing money she was sending to the Philippines and having an affair. He said Tumaneng was forced by the Poon family to work 18-hour days and they gave her little food. This led her to take tranquillisers and alcohol while baby-sitting. But the judge said Tumaneng wilfully took responsibility for the child. 'You were taking drugs. You were taking drink. You had emotional problems and were going through periods of dizziness and drowsiness because of the drugs. Having you in charge of this baby at all was a recipe for catastrophe,' a visibly angry Judge Britton said. 'You knew this, the parents did not, but yet you chose to accept care of this little boy regardless of the risk and he is dead as a result. The court does not tolerate this type of conduct, I firmly express abhorrence of your behaviour. If it was in my power, I would send you away to prison for many years. You may consider yourself lucky I am unable to do so.' Using the two-year starting point, Judge Britton discounted three months from the sentence, citing Tumaneng's guilty plea and clear record.