On July 5, two men aged 40 & 41 found guilty of each count of using criminal force to outrage the modesty of the then 28-year-old victim.
According to CNA, Neo Wei Meng & Goh Suet Hong convicted of molesting their Grab driver while travelling on the expressway. They were sentenced to jail and caning Thursday (Jul 7).
Neo Wei Meng, 41, was given one year and two months’ jail and three strokes of the cane, while Goh Suet Hong, 40, received a year’s jail and two strokes of the cane.
WHAT HAPPENED :
Goh & Neo, met for drinks along Neil Road around 10pm on Nov 11, 2018. After drinking, they booked the then 28-year-old victim’s car to drop Neo off at his home in Hougang followed by Goh at his home in Punggol.
The victim testified that when he picked Goh and Neo up, they told him he looked “very cute” and said: “Do you know god has sent us to pleasure you?” and “We are women disguised as men.”
During the first part of the journey to Hougang, while travelling on the CTE, Goh touched the victim’s nipples.
The victim told him to stop. At the same time, Neo touched the victim’s private parts.
When the victim told Neo to stop, the man continued and also started licking his cheek and ear, the victim testified.
According to the victim, Goh and Neo exchanged places after some time, where Goh moved to the victim’s private parts while Neo touched his nipples.
Victim repeatedly told them to stop but they ignored. He said that Goh and Neo only stopped when they spotted a police car after exiting the expressway.
The second part of the journey started after Neo alighted at his home in Hougang.
Goh shifted to the front seat, where he kissed the victim on the cheek and lips and touched his private parts again, CNA reported.
The victim said that when they reached Punggol, Goh asked for them to spend some time together in the car but the victim declined.
Goh then asked the victim to drive to a multi-storey car park and wait while he stepped outside to relieve himself. The victim drove away while Goh was urinating behind a pillar.
Around 3am, the victim made a police report saying he had been molested, and also handed over Goh’s belongings to the police that were left in the car.
Deputy Public Prosecutor David Menon sought 14 to 15 months’ jail and three strokes of the cane for Neo. He initially sought nine to 10 months’ jail and no caning for Goh, but raised this to 12 to 13 months and two strokes of the cane after the court sought clarification on the sentencing position, CNA reported.
In court, DPP explained that Goh’s prolonged contact with the victim’s private parts, even though it was not skin-to-skin contact, was an “aggravating factor” that warranted caning. He argued that the court was also allowed to take into consideration Goh’s conduct during the first leg of the journey. Goh was only charged for his assault of the victim during the second leg.
The sentence sought for Neo was higher in order to reflect the higher degree of sexual intrusion from making skin-on-skin contact with the victim’s private parts during the first leg.
Defence counsel Kalaithasan Karuppaya asked for leniency and mercy, and sentences at the lower range of the penalties sought by the prosecution.
While sentencing, Magistrate Hairul Hakkim Kuthibutheen said the experience of being “repeatedly and mercilessly” molested had left an “indelible mark” on the victim.
At trial, the victim testified that he took about a month after the assault to resume his work as a Grab driver, and even then only for a few hours each day.
The victim, who now delivers food, has said that he felt “traumatised” and was unable to face strangers, the magistrate noted.
He had told the court: “I do not dare to face the customer. So what I do is I just hand the food at the door and run away.”
The magistrate added that the pair had committed group sexual assault on a public transport worker while the man was driving and this posed a safety hazard to the victim, as well as other road users.
Deputy Public Prosecutor David Menon earlier stated in his submissions that before boarding the victim’s car, Goh and Neo had gone to a nightspot called Ebar in Neil Road on the evening of Nov 11, 2018.
They then consumed alcoholic drinks.
In the wee hours of the next day, Neo made a vehicle booking on Grab.
The DPP said: “When they boarded the victim’s car, they were feeling the effects of the alcohol they had rapidly consumed and their inhibitions were lowered”, ST reported.
The court heard that the victim did not shout for help earlier as he was afraid that his two passengers might attack him if he did so.
“The victim did not flee the scene in Hougang because he needed to complete the trip to avoid being suspended by Grab. At the time, Grab was his only source of income”, DPP added.
“Similarly, the victim did not terminate the trip early because if he did not complete the trip, his Grab account would be suspended.”
DPP Menon further added: “The victim’s testimony should be given full credit. He wasted no time in reporting the offences at Punggol Neighbourhood Police Centre when they were fresh in his mind. He has no reason to lie or to falsely implicate either Neo or Goh.”
Goh and Neo were represented by lawyer Kalaithasan Karuppaya.
On Thursday, Mr Kalaithasan told the court that the offenders intend to appeal against their convictions and sentences.
For molestation, an offender can be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned or receive any combination of such punishments.
Images : Shin Min Daily News
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