A judge has slammed the “remarkable absence of humanity” in a Melbourne couple who were convicted for keeping a vulnerable woman as a slave and never apologised.
Kumuthini Kannan and her husband Kandasamy were convicted by a jury in April of keeping and using the Tamil woman as a slave, forcing her to cook, clean and look after their children in their Mount Waverley home for eight years.
The woman came to Melbourne twice to work for the family before returning on a one-month tourist visa in 2007. She was kept by the couple, working up to 23 hours a day for eight years, until she collapsed in July 2015.
She was taken to hospital in a serious condition, weighing 40kg and suffering sepsis and untreated diabetes.
In a pre-sentence hearing on Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice John Champion said it was “bewildering” that the couple, earlier described as “charitable” and “giving” people, had never apologised to the woman.
He said the Kannans had shown a “distinct lack of care” for the woman they had used as a slave.
“They must have been aware she was probably days away form dying and it’s never been conveyed that they were sorry,” Justice Champion told the court.
“No one has expressed any sense of regret or sorrow. It’s a fairly remarkable absence of humanity.”
Kandasamy Kannan’s barrister John Kelly SC said their “reluctance” was bound up in concerns that any expression of regret would stand as an admission of liability or culpability and could impact a potential appeal.
Kumuthini Kannan’s barrister Gideon Boas said while his client had expressed her sorrow for the woman’s condition to him personally, she did not accept responsibility for causing it.
Meanwhile, Justice Champion revoked Kimuthini Kannan’s bail as he berated the couple’s barristers for failing to organise proper care for their three children should both parents be remanded before their sentencing on July 21.
“If I revoke bail – what happens to the children tonight?” Justice Champion asked Mr Kelly and Dr Boas.
“It is stunning to me that there is no plan in place to care for these children in the event your clients go into custody.
“I can’t express my displeasure strongly enough that this hasn’t been remedied yet. I am extremely angry.”
Justice Champion continued Kandasamy Kannan’s bail, effectively as a “compromise”, for the children to be looked after satisfactorily.
He had previously condemned the couple for having “placed a gun to the court’s head” by failing to make arrangements for the vulnerable children, describing it as an “impossible situation”.