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DH jailed 2 months for scalding ward with hair dryer

19 August 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina domestic worker was sentenced to two months in jail in West Kowloon Court on Aug 18 after being found guilty of “ill treatment or neglect of a child” for scalding her six-year-old male ward’s buttocks with a hair dryer.

Julyn E. Almario, 35, had pleaded not guilty to the accusation, saying that the child sustained the injuries accidentally in April.

Almario was the fourth Filipina to be jailed for assaulting their wards in just a month. The cases have prompted Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre to say that he will soon organize seminars on child care for Filipino domestic workers.

On July 18, Carmela Sotto was jailed six months by a magistrate in Eastern Court after being caught on CCTV slapping her employer’s 18-month-old baby twice on June 3.

Three days later, a third OFW, Rochelle L. Dreck was locked up by the same Eastern Court magistrate for two and a half months for assaulting the four-year-old   son of jailed Hong Kong business magnate Carson Yueng.

In the latest case, Almario said she did not intend to harm the child, and that she was in good terms with her employers, whom she had served for the past four years.

But in a video interview, the boy said the maid had deliberately pressed the hot part of the dryer against his buttocks while drying his hair after a shower, scalding his skin.

The defendant denied this, saying that the boy had climbed atop the toilet bowl and slipped while she was drying his hair in the bathroom. The child reportedly fell on her stomach but the Filipina said she did not see the dryer come into contact with any part of the boy’s body.

The boy’s mother gave evidence that when she heard the commotion in the bathroom, she knocked on the door and the helper told her they slipped on the floor and the boy must have come into contact with the dryer’s nozzle, causing redness on his buttocks.

The parents did not immediately report the incident to the police thinking that it was an accident and the redness was not serious. But after three days, when injuries from the scalding appeared, they called the police and the maid was arrested. 

In finding Almario guilty, Magistrate June Cheung said the toddler’s statements were consistent with how he sustained his injury. Even if there were some slight differences in what the boy told his parents and what he said in the video interview, these were immaterial to the case as the point was to show he sustained the injuries.

On the other hand, Cheung said the maid’s evidence was contradictory, indicating she was not telling the truth.

The defense lawyer pleaded for leniency, possibly by way of a suspended sentence, saying Almario, who was separated from her husband and had worked in Hong Kong as a helper for seven years, had a 15-year-old daughter and her parents to support. The lawyer also said the Filipina had a clear record and had good relations with her employers..

But Cheung said a custodial sentence was necessary because the case was serious.

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