Entrepreneur convicted of sexually assaulting sister's friend; judge says sister gave false testimony

Norvan Tan En Jie was convicted of all four charges he had contested. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 26-year-old entrepreneur was found guilty on Friday (July 15) of molesting and sexually assaulting his younger sister's friend, who was staying over at their family flat after a night of drinking to celebrate Christmas.

In convicting Norvan Tan En Jie, High Court judge Ang Cheng Hock also found that the man's younger sister Julniee had given false testimony in court to help her brother.

Justice Ang convicted Tan of all four charges he had contested - two charges of sexual assault by penetration and two charges of outrage of modesty - for acts committed on the woman, then 19, in the early hours of Dec 26, 2016.

Tan, who co-founded food business Beef Bro and was described by lifestyle site Vulcan Post as a "serial entrepreneur", had denied the charges.

The judge rejected the defence's suggestion that Tan's semen might have been transferred to a T-shirt the victim was wearing at the time from the surfaces of a toilet.

After the incident, Tan's sister said in text messages to the victim, as well as in her statements to the police, that her brother had admitted "fingering" the victim.

However, when the sister testified in court as a prosecution witness, she recanted her previous statements.

She claimed the text message was a lie in the hope that the victim would drop the idea of going to the police.

Tan also denied that he had made the admission to his sister, and insisted that his sister was trying to frame him at the time.

But Justice Ang said Tan could not offer a reason for why his sister would want to frame him and found it "quite inconceivable" that she could lie about something as serious as sexual assault.

He noted that she was a "very reluctant" witness for the prosecution.

The judge found that the victim's evidence was unusually clear and convincing, while Tan's testimony was riddled with difficulties.

The judge also highlighted text messages in which Tan told his girlfriend that he could not "accept the truth" and suggested that they run away.

The victim was a primary school classmate of Tan's sister, and the two had met friends for drinks on Christmas Day evening.

When the two women arrived at the flat at about 5.40am, he was in his room with two friends after a night of drinking.

Tan assaulted the victim while his sister was having a private conversation with one of his friends in his room.

The victim testified that while she was in the toilet to vomit, a man kissed her.

The man then took her to a room, placed her on a bed, touched her breast and inserted his fingers into her.

When the woman ran back to the toilet to throw up once more, the man pulled down her shorts and sodomised her.

Tan's sister went to the toilet later and took the woman back to her room.

The woman later told her friends about the incident and made a police report on Dec 27, 2016.

Sentencing was adjourned to August.

A person convicted of sexual assault by penetration faces up to 20 years' jail and a fine or caning.

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