Man sentenced to jail, cane for molesting stranger during New Year's Day festivities

SINGAPORE - Taking advantage of the festive mood, a construction worker molested a stranger on New Year's Day this year.

Parthiban Pandu hugged his 44-year-old victim from behind, and she thought it was just a friend. He squeezed her breasts as she was turning around to see who it was, and swiped his hand against her private part area before she could react.

On Monday, Parthiban, who is from India, was sentenced to 10 months in jail and ordered to be given three strokes of the cane. The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to outraging his victim's modesty just after midnight on Jan 1.

The court heard that the incident took place in a recreation centre for foreign workers in Soon Lee Road, in Boon Lay.

As he drank with a friend at the carpark, Parthiban noticed more than 50 people celebrating the new year at the coffeeshop in the centre. He entered the coffeeshop, where the victim and others were spraying confetti. He then molested her.

During police investigations, Parthiban said he had acted "out of fun and celebration".

Assistant Public Prosecutor Koh Huimin told the court this showed Parthiban was unremorseful. Highlighting police statistics, Ms Koh said there had been 1,367 molest cases in 2014, a 3.2 per cent increase from the 1,325 in 2013.

Pleading for leniency, Parthiban said he was the sole breadwinner in his family. He added that it had been 40 days since he was able to call his mother, who had recently undergone surgery on her stomach and is not well. He said the victim was of his mother's age.

Parthiban could have been jailed for up to two years, fined and caned.