SINGAPORE — A man who lured a female Thai tourist to his shop before forcing himself on her at a deserted stairwell was jailed two-and-a-half years and sentenced to three strokes of the cane on Wednesday (28 April).
Tan Ee Hong, 25, was a retail assistant at a clothing store in Golden Mile Complex, where he encountered the 27-year-old victim, who speaks simple English.
Tan pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated molest. The victim cannot be named to protect her identity.
On 23 November 2019, the victim and her friends went to Golden Mile Complex to eat at a mookata restaurant. The group left at around 7.30am and the victim took a call from her mother. She lost sight of her friends.
Tan saw the woman and wanted to befriend her, thinking she looked pretty. He asked her if she wanted to see his shop upstairs. The woman asked about her friends and Tan, noting that the woman only spoke simple English, replied that her friends would follow.
The victim agreed as she thought that Tan’s shop was the karaoke lounge where her friends might be at. Upon reaching the fourth floor shop, she realised it was not the karaoke lounge and that her friends were not there. She walked away, telling Tan that she did not want to be there.
Upset, Tan followed her to the lift lobby. He blocked her and asked her to return to his shop but she refused. She warned Tan that she would call the police even though she did not know the police hotline. Tan grabbed her arm and a struggle ensued, with the woman falling backwards.
Tan then pressed his body over her and they tussled over her phone. Tan eventually dragged the woman to a nearby stairwell and pushed her into a corner. He molested the woman as she shouted for help and struggled against him. When the woman broke free and tried to flee, he dragged her back and she nearly fell over the staircase railing. He straddled the woman and tried to kiss her.
At one point, a couple exited the fourth floor lift to attend a meditation class when the wife noticed the woman’s belongings strewn about. She heard the sound of the victim crying from behind the stairwell door.
The man told his wife to get help while he checked the stairwell. The man observed that Tan reeked of alcohol and the woman was crying “help me”. Tan tried to prevent the man from helping the victim but the man pulled the woman away.
Tan then claimed he was helping the victim, but the man did not believe him. The victim later called the police for help, with the man taking over the call to explain what happened.
The distressed victim was later conveyed to hospital and was treated for minor injuries.
Tan, who had earlier been drinking with friends, had 28mg/100ml of ethanol in his blood.
His lawyer, S S Dhillon, told the court that Tan had breakfast with his friends at Golden Mile and was scheduled to head to Kuala Lumpur by bus for a dance competition. He had planned to rest at the clothing store he worked at before leaving.
According to Dhillon, Tan wanted to help the victim, who seemed to have difficulty walking when he first saw her. He did not compel the woman to go to his shop, the lawyer said.
“Tan had been drinking excessive alcohol, rendering his judgement impaired,” Dhillon added. “However, when the victim took out her hand phone, Tan panicked and later pushed her into the staircase landing beside the lift lobby.
“On hindsight, Tan wished that he had exercised extreme prudence and not allow his judgement to be clouded by excessive intake of alcohol. Tan wishes to express his profound apologies to the victim for the trauma that she had to undergo.”
For molest while causing wrongful restraint, Tan could have been jailed between two and 10 years with caning.
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