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Pinay helper disputes charge she harmed employer's baby

31 January 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina domestic worker accused of harming her young female ward has pleaded not guilty to the charge on the first of her two-day trial in Shatin Court.

But after five prosecution witnesses gave evidence in court on Jan 29, Magistrate Jerry Chung said defendant Merlyn Ando had a case to answer.

Chung adjourned the hearing until Friday, Feb 1, when Ando is expected to give evidence.

Ando is facing a charge of “Ill-treatment by those in charge of a child or young person” due to injuries suffered by her employer’s six-month-old baby girl when the mother unknowingly gave the baby a bath using water that had been tainted with bleach.

The employer, Charlotte Chan, blamed the Aug 13, 2018 incident on the helper, who she accused of wanting to cause harm by allegedly placing a plastic bottle of Chlorox beside a bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby shower gel on the bathroom rack for baby toiletries.

She said the incident happened a day before Ando was to leave the employer’s flat after resigning from her job. The maid began serving the family in February 2017, and had been in their employ for one and a half years before the incident.

During cross-examination, defense lawyer John Murray asked Chan if it was true that she had been charging the helper for damages to her belongings, and that she demanded Ando to pay her a month’s salary for resigning prematurely.

The employer answered that she was aware of the Labour code and that the charges she demanded were within the law.   

Chan, the first prosecution witness, said she prepared the baby’s bath herself. But she said the maid had cleaned the toilet using the bleach just before she bathed her baby.

As a result of the tainted bath, the baby suffered redness on her arm and the side of her body that irritated her skin, the employer said. Chan said she had to take the baby to the Prince of Wales Hospital for treatment and observation, then complained to the police.

Ando was arrested on Aug 13 and had been kept in custody since because the prosecution opposed granting bail to her.

Magistrate Chung told the court he would finish the trial on Friday morning after giving Ando a chance to give evidence. He also ordered the prosecution and defense lawyers to make their submissions on their cases on that day.


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