Court maintains 20-year jail term for couple who caused maid’s death

Fong Kong Meng and Teoh Ching Yen being led into the court in 2011. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court here today maintained the 20-year jail term imposed on a couple for causing the death of their Indonesian maid in 2011.

Fong Kong Meng, 63, and Teoh Ching Yen, 61, were initially sentenced to death by the High Court for the murder of Isti Komariah, 26, at a house in Sea Park, Petaling Jaya, between May 14, 2010 and June 5, 2011.

The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

However, the couple was spared the gallows when the Federal Court on April 4 last year amended the charge from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wak, who led a five-member bench, said today that no error was involved in the amendment.

“This bench re-evaluated the entire evidence against the applicants to justify the reduction in charge.

“There was no error when the charge was reduced from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder,” he said in dismissing the review application of an earlier apex court bench.

Fong and Teoh had claimed that they were wrongly sentenced to 20 years’ jail by the Federal Court last year.

Lawyer Gopal Sri Ram submitted two months ago that the wrong provision of the law in the Penal Code was applied by the Federal Court to convict and sentence the couple.

He said the appropriate sentence would be under Section 304 (b) which provides for a maximum jail term of 10 years, not Section 304 (a) under which the offence is punishable with 30 years in prison.

Sri Ram, who was assisted by Hisyam Teh, said his clients’ case fell under Section 304 (b) as they had committed the offence without any intention of causing death.

He also said the prosecution had relied on Section 300 (d) of the Penal Code to prove its case for murder, and that the High Court had relied on the same section when sentencing the couple to death.

Section 300 (d) applies to cases where the accused person is shown to have no intention of causing specific bodily injury leading to death.

Deputy public prosecutor Tetralina Ahmed Fauzi said the application for review under Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995 is only applicable in rare and special circumstances.

She said the applicants did not meet the threshold requirement, and that the sentence handed down to Fong and Teoh was according to the law.

The couple filed the review application on April 4 last year, seeking for their conviction and sentence under Section 304 (a) be set aside and substituted with a sentence under Section 304 (b).