Man jailed for molesting woman on train

Kyaw was convicted after a two-day trial last month.
Kyaw was convicted after a two-day trial last month. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A mechanical and electrical supervisor was jailed for seven months yesterday for molesting a woman on an MRT train on the East-West Line.

Kyaw Myo That, 33, a Myanmar national, was convicted after a two-day trial last month of touching the 22-year-old woman's bra area under her left armpit.

The victim had testified that she boarded the train in Boon Lay on the morning of May 8 last year, and found a seat to the left of a priority seat at Buona Vista station. Kyaw sat to her left.

She had her handbag on her lap with the handle resting under her left armpit .

She noticed Kyaw moving closer to her but did not think much about it. Later, she felt the left side of her bra move. Thinking it was her bag handle, she moved the strap to the front.

However, after the train left Tanjong Pagar station, she felt the movement again. She looked at her left armpit area and saw Kyaw had three fingers on her breast. He then smiled at her.

When the train left City Hall station, she stood up and exited at Bugis station. Kyaw followed her.

Terrified, she called her cousin and asked her to stay on the phone with her. Kyaw followed her all the way until she reached her workplace before turning back.

She called her elder brother who had to calm her down for 20 minutes as she was crying. She made a police report the next day.

Kyaw denied touching her intentionally as he was sleeping intermittently. His case was that if he did touch her, it was accidental.

Convicting him last month, District Judge Eddy Tham said Kyaw gave a very clear account of the incident in his police statement. He had stated that he was feeling sleepy inside the train when he folded his arms across his chest, with his left hand under the right armpit. This was consistent with the woman's version.

But in court, Kyaw departed from this to bolster his defence that he could not have done it, said the judge, adding he therefore "(had) no problem" finding the accused did indeed touch the victim.

He agreed with Deputy Public Prosecutor James Low that such offences in public transport must be strongly deterred as it was difficult for victims to ascertain whether the touch was accidental or not. The victim in this case had given Kyaw the benefit of the doubt at first.

Kyaw, defended by Mr Nirmal Singh, could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned or received any combined punishment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2016, with the headline 'Man jailed for molesting woman on train'. Print Edition | Subscribe