British trio's rape trial

British trio's rape trial: All accused plead guilty to reduced charges

Britons Michael Le (left), Khong Tam Thanh (right) and Vu Thai Son pleaded guilty to outraging a women's modesty.
Britons Michael Le (left), Khong Tam Thanh (right) and Vu Thai Son pleaded guilty to outraging a women's modesty.PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Three British nationals who went on trial two weeks ago for taking turns to rape a Malaysian woman in Carlton Hotel pleaded guilty to aggravated molestation on Monday (Aug 14), after taking a week to consider the reduced charges.

Khong Tam Thanh, 22, Vu Thai Son, 24, and Michael Le, 24, pleaded guilty to outraging the woman's modesty by having sex with her while wrongfully restraining her in the early hours of Sept 10 last year.

Thanh and Son also each admitted to a second charge of outraging her modesty by committing another sexual act on the woman, who was then 22 years old.

It was not mentioned in court why the charges were reduced.

They are expected to be sentenced on Tuesday morning. The punishment for aggravated molestation is between two and 10 years' jail and caning.

The trio, who are all of Vietnamese descent, were part of a group of friends who came to Singapore on Sept 9 to throw a stag party and to attend a music festival. They had booked three rooms at the hotel.

On the night they arrived, the group went clubbing at Zouk, where one of them, Mr Trinh Viet Anh, 24, who is also known as Richard, struck up a conversation with the woman. The woman, a marketing and corporate communications officer, was visiting Singapore.

 
 
 

She suggested going to Mr Anh's hotel room, where they had consensual sex, after which she fell asleep. Thanh, Son and Le later returned and gathered in another room with the rest of their friends.

At about 4am, Thanh made his way to Mr Anh's room. After letting him in, Mr Anh went to join the others, leaving the woman and Thanh in his room. Thanh then violated the sleeping woman and had protected sex with her.

Thanh then left the room, leaving the door ajar, and rejoined his friends.

Soon after, Son went to the room, where he violated the woman and had unprotected sex with her.

After Son left, Le entered the room and had protected sex with the woman until she suddenly woke up and demanded to know who he was.

She pushed Le away and covered herself with a blanket, telling him that she would never have agreed to have sex with someone as ugly as him.

She confronted Mr Anh but he claimed he had no knowledge of what had happened.

She then texted a friend, who came to pick her up from the hotel and took her to his flat to rest. She decided to lodge a police report after waking up that afternoon.

On Monday, Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan sought six years' jail for Le and seven years' jail for Thanh and Son. "They objectified her, they treated her like a thing to be used and abused," he said.

Defence lawyers cited a 2010 case in which five youths aged between 17 and 19 originally charged with gang-raping a 17-year-old girl had their charges reduced to aggravated molestation after 19 days of trial. The five youths were sentenced to jail terms of between 31/2 and five years.

Mr Shashi Nathan, representing Thanh, read out a letter of apology in which his client offered the woman $5,000 to show his genuine contrition. He argued that Thanh, who has a five-year-old daughter, acted in a moment of folly after Mr Anh allegedly suggested to Thanh that he can "try his luck" with the woman.

Son and Le also submitted letters to the court apologising to the victim.

Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, representing Son, noted that he came to Singapore not to commit a crime but for a social purpose.

Mr Ramesh Tiwary, representing Le, highlighted that he was the first person to indicate his desire to plead guilty after the charges were amended by the prosecution, sparing the woman from having to testify in court.