14 days' detention for MRT harasser

Gan Thean Soo was sentenced to a 14-day short detention order, and a six-month day-reporting order. The 72-year-old was caught on video harassing and slapping a man in an MRT train, asking the man to have sex with him.
Gan Thean Soo was sentenced to a 14-day short detention order, and a six-month day-reporting order. The 72-year-old was caught on video harassing and slapping a man in an MRT train, asking the man to have sex with him.ST FILE PHOTO

A business development manager who was caught on video in an MRT train asking an American man to have sex with him, was sentenced to a 14-day short detention order yesterday.

This means Gan Thean Soo, 72, will have to serve a brief stint behind bars but will not have a criminal record after he is released. District Judge May Mesenas also sentenced him to a six-month day-reporting order, which means he will have to go to a day-reporting centre for monitoring and counselling, and undergo rehabilitation.

He will be electronically tagged and has to remain indoors from 11pm to 6.30am every day.

He has also been given a community service order and now has to perform 100 hours of community service within a year.

Before Gan was sentenced yesterday, his lawyer, Mr Philip Loh, told the court that his client's alcohol addiction was the root cause of his offences.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Shenna Tjoa urged Judge Mesenas to sentence him to at least two weeks' jail, stressing that, according to reports from the Institute of Mental Health, Gan's alcohol consumption had no significant contributory link to his offences.

Gan pleaded guilty on April 20 to one count each of harassment and assault. The court heard that Mr Joseph Flynn De Marini, a 25-year-old American, boarded the train with a Singaporean friend, Ms Li Zixin, 20, at Chinatown MRT station at around 8.15pm on April 19 last year and sat opposite Gan in the same carriage.

Mr De Marini ignored Gan when he noticed that the elderly man was staring at him. Gan then walked towards the American and told him: "I like you. I am gay."

Gan, who has a son and a daughter, also propositioned the American. He got angry when Mr De Marini and Ms Li chided him for being rude, and started hurling vulgarities at the American.

DPP Charleston Teo said in court: "The victim throughout this exchange informed the accused that he did not know who he was and repeatedly requested that the accused leave them alone. The victim then informed the accused that he was not gay. The latter, however, continued insisting otherwise."

In the video, that is about four minutes long, other passengers could be heard intervening but Gan continued harassing Mr De Marini. He continued insisting that the American was gay before slapping him. Mr De Marini did not retaliate, the court heard. A fellow passenger then went forward and took Gan away from him.

Gan, Mr De Marini and Ms Li later alighted at Serangoon station but via different doors. The American alerted police to his ordeal two days later.

The court heard yesterday that the prosecution may be appealing against the sentence. Gan is now out on bail of $8,000 and was ordered to surrender at the State Courts on June 26.

Shaffiq Alkhatib

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2018, with the headline '14 days' detention for MRT harasser'. Print Edition | Subscribe