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Filipina jailed 6 months for bleach-tainted baby bath

24 February 2019

by Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina helper has been ordered jailed for six months by a Shatin Court magistrate for deliberately leaving a bottle of bleach solution in the bathroom that her employer then used to bathe a six-month-old baby.

Magistrate Jerry Chung said the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Merlyn Ando had left the solution, placed in an empty baby gel bottle in the bathroom to cause harm, due to a money issue against the employer, Charlotte Chan.

Chung said an aggravating factor was that Ando only told the mother that the supposed gel she mixed with the baby’s bath was a bleach solution after the baby girl, who was crying, was lifted out of the tainted bath by Chan.

Ando, wearing a white long-sleeved blouse, listened without any sign of emotion as Chung read his verdict, which a Tagalog court interpreter translated to her.

The magistrate said he adopted seven months for the sentence but reduced it by a month after considering that Ando had a clear record and had been in custody since Aug 13 last year, when the incident happened.  

Ando was charged with “Ill-treatment by those in charge of a child or young person” after Chan blamed her for the incident, which caused the baby to develop redness on her arm and lower part of her body.

Ando is expected to be released and sent home soon because she had been in custody for more than six months since her arrest.

Asked if an appeal was being considered, Ando’s lawyer, John Marray, said he was thinking about that but the Filipina had accepted the verdict, knowing she would be out soon.

The prosecution called five witnesses during the Jan 31-Feb 1 trial to give evidence, including Chan, the police officer who responded to the report about the incident, and a doctor at Prince of Wales Hospital who attended to the baby.

“There was no serious challenge to their evidence by the defendant,” he added. “As for the defendant, I don’t find her a credible witness,” said the magistrate.

Ando had taken the witness stand to answer questions about what had led to the mother accidentally bathing her daughter with the tainted water.

One witness, Chang Yu, the hospital doctor who had treated the baby, said the infant bore no signs of injury apart from redness on her arm and side. He said she was happy and normal.

The baby was rushed to the hospital by Chan after reporting the incident to police.

In her testimony, Ando said the used the empty blue baby gel plastic bottle to mix the Chlorox and water solution because it had a better grip and the liquid did not leak onto her hand when she was spraying it.

She said she normally kept the bottle in the kitchen and on Aug 13, she used it to clean the bathroom.

She said she had just sprayed the tub to remove a yellow stain when Chan ordered her to fetch her eldest child, a 4-year-old boy, from the ground floor.

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