Driver molested two women within an hour of each other during carpooling rides

SINGAPORE - A man who was jailed eight months for molestation in 2015 was back at it again, molesting two women last year within an hour of each other while giving them rides as part of a carpooling service.

Tan Keng Leng, 39, was working as a part-time GrabHitch driver when he touched the two women inappropriately after they were made to seat out front.

The Singaporean was sentenced on Tuesday (Dec 17) to a year and 10 months' jail after pleading guilty to three counts of molestation.

Two other charges for similar offences were considered during sentencing.

He picked up his first victim at around 5.30pm on Oct 12 last year. The 46-year-old woman tried to get to the back seat but found that the rear door was locked.

Tan told the woman that there were some files on the rear seat and instructed her to sit in the front passenger seat.

As Tan was driving along the Pan Island Expressway, she felt his left elbow touching the right side of her arm.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Goh Yi Ling said: "She thought this was accidental and shifted her body to the left. However, the accused again extended his left elbow towards her, and touched the right side of her right breast over her clothing.

"This happened at least four times during the entire journey."

The woman later alerted the police at around 8pm that day, but by then Tan had struck again.

At around 6.15pm, he picked up a 24-year-old woman and got her to sit out front.

While driving along East Coast Road, he shifted his body closer to her, extended his left elbow and used it to brush her right breast.

The DPP told District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim: "The accused then placed his left elbow on the centre compartment of the car. He was talking to the victim and gesturing with his left hand.

"When the car drove over a bump or a rough road surface, the accused touched the victim's right breast with his left fingers over her clothing. This happened at least three times during the entire journey."

DPP Goh, who urged the court to sentence Tan to two years' jail, said that he had "specifically targeted" his passengers by making them sit in the front passenger seat.

The women were unable to escape as they were travelling on the road within the confines of Tan's vehicle, the court heard.

In a statement on Tuesday, Grab said Tan has been banned from the platform.

"We have zero tolerance for indecent behaviour and users found to display errant behaviour will be suspended from the platform. Our consumers' and delivery-partners' safety are important to us and we urge both passengers and driver-partners to treat each other with respect and kindness," said a spokesman.

Tan was offered bail of $5,000 and will have to surrender himself at the State Courts on Jan 16 next year to begin serving his sentence.

For each count of molestation, offenders can be jailed for up to two years and fined or caned.

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