Cabby jailed for molesting 13-year-old boy in taxi

SINGAPORE - A taxi driver who molested a 13-year-old boy was jailed for 14 months and three weeks on Tuesday (April 13).

Chew Lye Beng, 58, who was then a part-time cabby with ComfortDelGro, was convicted last month of one charge of molesting a minor.

On July 21, 2017, the Secondary 1 student wanted to go home after class to change before returning to school for co-curricular activities. He asked his friend to accompany him, and they flagged down Chew's taxi at 1.12 pm.

Chew told the boy to sit in the front passenger seat, while his friend sat at the back.

The accused chatted with the boy throughout the 10-minute journey to his condominium.

After paying Chew in cash, the boy held the change in one hand and his wallet in the other. Chew reached over and purportedly helped him unbuckle his seatbelt despite the boy not having asked him to do so. It was then that Chew molested the boy twice.

All three of them got out of the taxi, and Chew asked the victim for directions to the toilet.

After Chew walked away, the boy told his friend he had been molested.

He went home to change and they then left the home, but became worried that Chew would still be around. They went back to the home, where the victim took a penknife for self-defence.

His mother saw him holding the penknife and questioned him, before he told her what happened.

A police report was made against Chew that evening.

The court was told that the victim was embarrassed and upset about being molested, and had been apprehensive about making a report as he felt the act of molestation by a male against another male might invalidate the allegation.

During the trial, Chew had to be repeatedly told to answer questions, even by his own defence lawyer. He also claimed to have shown the victim "fatherly" concern.

In addition, he made an issue of Deputy Public Prosecutor Mansoor Amir's accent, claiming that he could not understand the DPP, who is Indian.

The prosecution rebutted this, saying these allegations were baseless as the notes of evidence showed he could clearly understand and answer the DPP's questions.

DPP Mansoor and DPP Chong Kee En had urged the court to jail Chew for at least 14 months, noting that it was an aggravating factor that the accused was a public transport worker.

District Judge Carol Ling sentenced Chew to 14 months' jail and three strokes of the cane.

But as Chew is over 50 and cannot be caned, he was jailed for another three weeks in lieu of the caning.

Ms Tammy Tan, group chief branding and communications officer for ComfortDelGro, said: "The conduct of Chew Lye Beng is despicable to say the least. We are thankful he has been caught and will be serving time in jail for his depravity."

For molesting a minor, Chew could have been jailed for up to five years and fined.