British trio's rape trial: Woman consented to sex, says one of the accused

Khong Tam Thanh (pictured) is accused of raping a woman along with two others at the Carlton Hotel on Sept 10, 2016.
Khong Tam Thanh (pictured) is accused of raping a woman along with two others at the Carlton Hotel on Sept 10, 2016.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Michael Le (in spectacles), along with Tam Thanh Khong and Vu Thai Son, are on trial for the alleged rape of a 23-year-old woman at a hotel on Sept 10, 2016.
Michael Le (in spectacles), along with Tam Thanh Khong and Vu Thai Son, are on trial for the alleged rape of a 23-year-old woman at a hotel on Sept 10, 2016.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - One of three British nationals on trial for gangraping a Malaysian woman in Carlton Hotel told police that it was his friend who told him to have sex with the woman.

Khong Tam Thanh, 22, said his friend was the one who first brought the woman back to his room after a night out. He also said the 22-year-old woman agreed to have sex with him.

According to Thanh's police statements, she said: "What are you waiting for?" and explicitly asked him to have sex with her, the High Court heard on Thursday (Aug 3).

Thanh is accused of taking turns to rape the woman with Michael Le and Vu Thai Son, both 24, while she was drunk and asleep. Thanh and Son are also accused of sexually violating her.

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The three men are part of a group of friends who had come to Singapore on Sept 9 last year to attend a dance music festival. They had booked three rooms at the hotel.

On the night they arrived, the group went clubbing at Zouk, where one of them, Mr Ahn Viet Trinh, 24, struck up a conversation with the woman.

 

The woman, a marketing and corporate communications officer, was visiting Singapore.

She suggested going to Mr Trinh's hotel room, where they had consensual sex, after which she fell asleep. By then, Thanh, Son and Le had returned and were gathered in another room with the rest of their friends.

At about 4am, Mr Trinh let Thanh into his room, and left. After Thanh left the room at about 4.25am, Son entered. And within a minute after Son left the room, at about 4.50am, Le entered.

Prosecutors allege that the trio took turns to rape the woman, who thought Mr Trinh was the one in bed with her all along.

On Thursday (Aug 3), the court heard that when Thanh, a beautician, was questioned by police on Sept 11 (2016), he said he was "100 per cent positive"that he did not touch the woman when he went into the room to use the bathroom. "I wasn't even close to her. I was standing about a metre from the foot of the bed," he told police.

The next day, he changed his story, saying he had consensual sex with the woman but had lied because he was worried about his family and four-year-old daughter in London.

Thanh said it was Mr Trinh who suggested he have sex with the woman in his room after he opened his room door for him. He said he felt he "should try" after he had finished using the bathroom.He also kept telling the police that it was not rape because the woman was "willing and consented" and she "knew exactly what she was doing and with who, and she was totally happy about it".

The whereabouts of Mr Trinh, whose passport was impounded, also came up during Thursday's court hearing. Assistant Superintendent Then Lee Yong - who worked on the case - said she last spoke to Mr Trinh in September last year, when he asked for a copy of his passport to get a hotel room. He then became uncontactable on his Singapore phone number.

She added that immigration records showed that Mr Anh did not leave Singapore.

During cross-examination, Thanh's lawyer Shashi Nathan, addressing ASP Then, said: "Did it occur to you that he may have left Singapore without using his UK passport?" She said that was the reason she approached the Vietnamese embassy, even though he was a British citizen, because he may have sought help there.

"We do consider the possibility that he has left Singapore," she said.

The trial continues.