Reported by Today Online on 1 April 2020
A 28-year-old man (‘the Accused’) was jailed for 11 months on 1 April after pleading guilty to one count of outrage of modesty and one count of criminal trespass.
The victim was his neighbour’s 30-year-old domestic helper who hailed from Myanmar (‘the Victim’).
The incident, which occurred on 31 July 2019, unfolded when the parties chanced upon one another at the lift lobby of their HDB block. They started chatting as they entered the lift together. When they exited, the Victim, who lived just 2 units away, walked ahead of the Accused along the common corridor.
Without warning, he suddenly hugged her from behind and rubbed his body against her buttocks. She told him to stop and managed to struggle free and run to the entrance of her employer’s unit. The Accused chased her and, as she struggled to open her gate, he hugged her again. She pushed him away and he hugged her a third time from the front. When she finally managed to open the gate and get into the flat, she lost her balance and fell on her back. This is when the Accused lay on top of her and started to rub his body against her private areas.
She started shouting for help and at this, her employer came to her rescue. The Accused stopped and apologized immediately before returning back to his flat, flustered. The victim made a police report the next day.
The prosecution sought a sentence of 1 year for the outrage of modesty charge and at least 3 weeks for the trespassing charge. They raised a number of aggravating factors, most prominently the Accused’s previous conviction for outrage of modesty in 2018.
The Accused’s solicitor, Ms Chong Xin Yi, sought a custodial sentence of no more than 5 months and a fine of not more than S$300. This was based on various case precedents, and the fact of the Accused’s intellectual disability, which they argued impeded his ability to conduct himself in a manner that was expected of a person with normal mental facilities.
Among other mitigating factors raised was the Accused’s lack of premeditation, genuine remorse, a timeous plea of guilt, low degree of sexual exploitation and the Accused’s positive prospects for reform. The counsel informed the Court that both the Accused and his family recognized a need for him to be gainfully occupied (since he was not working nor studying at the time of the incident), and that the Accused also intended to return to his previous school, Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) (Katong), prior to securing employment, having already reached out to his teacher and a social worker there.
The Accused faced 11 months for the outrage of modesty charge and 3 months for the criminal trespass charge, which are sections 354(1) and 447 of the Penal Code (Cap 224) respectively. The Judge ordered for the charges to run concurrently, thus the final sentence came up to 11 months. Under the statute, he could have faced 2 years in prison combined with a fine and/or a caning for the first charge, and 3 months in prison or a fine or both for the second charge.