SINGAPORE - A private student who restrained a Myanmar domestic worker and repeatedly kissed her was sentenced to three years' jail and four strokes of the cane on Monday (Sept 4) for outraging her modesty.
Indian national Verma Gaurav, 27, admitted to causing wrongful restraint while molesting the 26-year-old maid in a Housing Board (HDB) lift on Feb 24, 2017. He also admitted to molesting her the next day, and had a third charge, committed last November, taken into consideration during his sentencing.
The victim had seen Verma around but they did not know each other and were not romantically involved.
He had arrived in Singapore in mid-2016 on a student pass and was studying hospitality management at the STEi Institute.
On the evening of Feb 24, the victim was collecting mail at a void deck at McNair Road when Verma emerged from behind her and said "hello", Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tan Zhi Xiang told the court.
The maid ignored Verma before entering the lift. Although she hit the button, he followed her into the lift and tried to kiss her but she dodged.
He then placed his left arm around her neck and pressed his left cheek against hers while trying to take photographs with her using his mobile phone.
Verma then kissed her on her lips for about six seconds while grabbing her neck and forcefully pulling her body closer to his.
When the lift door opened, he did not allow her to leave.
After it closed, he grabbed her neck again and drew her body to his while kissing her for about three seconds. Again, he tried to take photographs although none was found in his phone.
He then kissed her two more times while restraining her.
"The accused was interrupted when the door opened, though he quickly pressed the 'close' button before kissing the victim on her lips for another 12 seconds while restraining her in the same manner," said the DPP.
When the door opened again, the victim tried to leave but he pulled her back, kissed her and held onto her right hand.
Verma only released her so she could key in her contact number on his phone. She did this out of fear.
The court heard that he kissed her two more times before she broke free and exited the lift.
The next day, the victim was making her way to a supermarket at Towner Road when Verma suddenly emerged from behind her.
He told her that he wanted to kiss her but she ignored him.
As she was walking along a side walkway at Towner Road, he grabbed her neck and kissed her on her lips. Shocked and scared, she pushed him away and told him that she would inform her employer about the incident before she left.
He was arrested on March 2, a day after she lodged a police report.
Verma could have been jailed for up to 10 years and caned for causing wrongful restraint while molesting the victim in a lift. The maximum penalty for molestation is two years' jail, or a fine or caning or with any combination of the punishments.