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The Straits Times
July 7, 2022
After a night of merrymaking, two friends boarded a private-hire car and ended up molesting the male driver.
During the trial, the Grab driver, 28, who cannot be named due to a gag order to protect his identity, told the court that during the ride, his two passengers - Neo Wei Meng and Goh Suet Hong - also directed several inappropriate comments at him.
The victim testified that the men had told him that they found him cute and that “God had sent them to pleasure him”.
They also told the victim that “they were women disguised as men”, the court heard.
On Thursday (July 7), Goh, 40, was sentenced to a year’s jail with two strokes of the cane, while Neo, 41, was sentenced to 14 months’ jail with three strokes of the cane.
Magistrate Hairul Hakkim Kuthibutheen, who had earlier convicted each offender of one count of molestation after a trial, said that unlike Goh’s charge, Neo’s involved direct skin-to-skin contact with the victim’s private parts.
Before handing down the sentences on Thursday, the magistrate said the victim had gone through a harrowing ordeal in which he was repeatedly and mercilessly molested by the pair.
Magistrate Hairul said that the incident left an indelible mark on the victim, adding that the man still feels traumatised and is unable to face strangers.
He said that the victim, who now does food delivery, cannot face customers, and when he does, he will run away after handing over the food.
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.
“Both Neo and Goh sat in the rear seat when they entered the victim’s car. The prosecution’s case is that Goh sat directly behind the victim, while Neo sat in the middle of the rear passenger seat.”
The court heard that the man was driving along the Central Expressway towards his first stop, Neo’s address in Hougang, when Goh used his right hand to reach over the victim’s right shoulder and across the victim’s chest.
Goh then touched the victim’s chest, the court heard.
The DPP said that at the same time, Neo leaned forward and touched the victim’s genitals.
According to the prosecution, at some point, the two offenders switched their actions.
DPP Menon told the court: “The victim did not consent to any of this contact. In fact, he repeatedly testified that he told Neo and Goh to stop on multiple occasions. They ignored him.”
Neo left the car when they reached his destination in Hougang.
Goh then moved to the front passenger seat, the court heard, and the victim began driving towards his address in Punggol.
The DPP said: “Almost immediately after they had set off for Punggol from Hougang, Goh kissed the victim on his left cheek and on his lips. Goh also rubbed the victim’s (genitals). The victim did not consent to this contact.”
Once they arrived in Punggol, Goh instructed the victim to enter a multi-storey carpark. He then told the victim to wait for him after he alighted from the car to relieve himself.
Instead, the driver seized the opportunity to leave the scene.
He drove to Punggol Neighbourhood Police Centre, where he filed a police report.
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 DPP said: "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.
"Similarly, the victim did not terminate the trip early because if he did not complete the trip, his Grab account would be suspended."
The DPP said that Neo’s defence was that of bare denial. He told the magistrate: “(Neo claimed) he got into the victim’s car and promptly fell asleep, waking up only when nearing his house... The victim... testified that neither Goh nor Neo slept during the trip.”
DPP Menon 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 from Regent Law.
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.