Tutor on trial for using criminal force on boy in Bishan Junction 8 toilet

SINGAPORE - A freelance tutor yesterday denied molesting a 12-year-old boy in a toilet at a shopping mall popular among students.

Cheng Hoe Huat, 52, is on trial for using criminal force on the boy by touching his private parts in the male toilet on the first floor of Bishan Junction 8 on Nov 13, 2013.

A frequent visitor to the mall, he told the court he would spend almost every weekday there, reading newspapers and the Bible and writing spiritual journals.

Cheng, who uses a walking stick, said he would talk to the boys he meets and make friends with them.

He testified that he came to know a group of madrasah boys by chance that day. The boys approached him while he was seated outside The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. He asked them how the madrasah taught sex education compared to other schools.

After they left, he continued with his reading until around 4.30pm or 5pm. Before leaving, he made a trip to the toilet. He denied asking the boy, who was then in Primary 6, to go with him.

Conducting his own defence, Cheng claimed he did not recognise the alleged victim or any of his four friends who were among the 13 prosecution witnesses who testified in court.

The boy, who is now 13, gave his testimony behind closed doors on Wednesday. His father was also among the prosecution witnesses.

The boy lodged a police report at Bishan Neighbourhood Police Centre a day after the alleged incident.

Junction 8 is a popular hangout spot for students from nearby schools, such as Catholic High School and Raffles Institution.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo will give her judgment on May 8. If convicted, Cheng could be jailed for up to five years and/or fined for molesting a person under 14 years old.

No caning is imposed on males above 50.

elena@sph.com.sg